Longfellow National Historic Site

Center for the State of the Parks: Park Assessments

Published August 2005


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Designated Longfellow National Historic Site in 1972, this historic yellow mansion in Cambridge, Mass., was built in 1759. One of the world's foremost poets, scholars, and educators, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, lived here from 1843 until his death in 1882. Gen. George Washington also lived in the yellow house, and used it as his headquarters during America's Revolutionary War, planning the Siege of Boston here between July 1775 and April 1776.

Today, NPCA's State of the Parks® assessment reveals that the Longfellow house, grounds, and extensive museum collection are in "fair" condition, scoring a 72 out of 100. An annual shortfall of $400,000 prevents the National Park Service from filling key positions, affecting the condition of the historic home and its many treasures, including an extensive library; diaries and papers from Longfellow, Washington, and others; a top-notch art collection; and historic furniture, some of which are stored in the attic of the house and carriage house without proper security and environmental controls. Funds to hire a curator for the park's extensive collection and ensure routine conservation care are lacking, and several maintenance and seasonal staff positions have been lapsed. Insufficient funding has also caused the park to be closed eight months of the year—restricting access for school groups—and only open five days a week during the summertime.

NPCA is concerned that this funding shortfall undermines the significant progress and financial investments made by the park's successful friends group, dedicated volunteers, local organizations and universities, and the park's congressional delegation, to restore and preserve the site over the past few years.

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