This wood-frame residence was built in 1759 for John Vassall, a British loyalist. The estate, which originally encompassed nearly 100 acres, served as the headquarters for General George Washington from 1775 to 1776 during the Siege of Boston. The house is best known as the residence of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who lived there from 1843 until his death in 1882. Following his death, his children formed the Longfellow House Trust and subdivided the acreage. Longfellow’s daughter, Alice, remained in the original house and managed the property until her death in 1928. Afterwards the property passed through several trusts and owners until 1972, when it was donated to the National Park Service.
The Colonial Revival garden designed by landscape architects Martha Brookes Hutcheson and Ellen Shipman between 1905 and 1925, has been restored to its appearance during Alice’s residency. The garden is accessed via a wooden gate on Brattle Street. A path bisects a front lawn area, before arriving at a balustrade and grass terrace. An elaborate parterre garden, restored by landscape architect Diane McGuire in the 1950s, is located in back.
Longfellow’s children established an association to preserve the view from the main house to the Charles River, creating Longfellow Park, the first park designed by Charles Eliot (1887) and subsequently improved by the firm Pray, Hubbard & White (1910). Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.