In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

The House, 1786-1960

"…but happier is he whose heart rides quietly at anchor in the peaceful haven of home."

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to his parents, 1826

When Peleg and Elizabeth Bartlett Wadsworth built their brick home on Back Street in Portland in 1785-1786, the surrounding town of Falmouth was small and rural.

The images in the accompanying slideshow show the evolution of the Wadsworth-Longfellow House and Congress Street, as Back Street came to be called, from 1786 to around 1960.

After a third story was added to the house after a fire in 1814, the house itself changed little. Outbuildings disappeared, the fence and surrounding trees and other plantings changed. Gradually, the house was no longer in a rural setting.

But Portland and the nature of urban life has changed dramatically.