4. Interlude from Washington to Longfellow

Portrait of Andrew Craigie against a blue backdrop.
Portrait of Andrew Craigie. Andrew served in the Revolutionary War under General Washington and would come to live at 105 Brattle Street in 1791.

In 1791, fifteen years after George Washington had left, Andrew Craigie bought the house. Andrew died a few years later, but his wife Elizabeth would occupy the home until her death in 1841. In 1837 a young professor familiar with thirteen languages, and confident with ten came from Maine to teach Modern Languages at Harvard. This new professor was none other than Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Looking for a place to live, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow came to the Craigie House and rented two rooms upstairs. While living in the house as a renter Henry wrote to a friend “It would be an honor to live in such a place of history”. Little did he know that he would soon come to own the house in the years to come. 

Born in Portland Maine in 1807, when Maine was still part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Longfellow was the son of a well-established family in the greater New England area. Enrolling at Bowdoin College at the age of fourteen, Longfellow traveled to Europe after his graduation. He was supposed to stay there studying languages for three years but instead was there for four. When he came back to the United States, he returned to his Alma Mater to teach before receiving a prestigious teaching position at Harvard. In his lifetime Henry Wadsworth Longfellow would go on to publish hundreds of poems, and short stories, becoming one of the most influential literary figures of the 19th century, and perhaps one of the most widely recognized Americans in the world!


Lithograph of Bowdoin College c. 1845