An American Home – Literature, Politics and Gardens

First, it seems we have a tradition on our hands. I think a jumping photo is the perfect way to capture our enthusiasm, while continuing to tour through Boston – and last week, Cambridge. The DTP interns had the opportunity to visit the Longfellow House – Washington Headquarters National Historical Site. “Longfellow House – Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site preserves the home of Henry W. Longfellow, one of the world’s foremost 19th century poets. The house also served as headquarters for General George Washington during the Siege of Boston, July 1775 – April 1776” (NPS).


Longfellow’s Study – Painting of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, painted by his son Ernest, with accompanying paintings and busts of fellow friends and poets – over the shelves Henry David Thoreau

The house – interior and exterior – are beautiful. Our tour was guided by NPS Ranger Rob Velella and his passion for literature and poetry complimented the educational and historical nature of the site. After explaining a room’s purpose and significance, Rob, with some encouragement and begging from Ashley and myself, would recite a few bars of Longfellow’s poetry. The list of great American and British writers and poets who visited this house is amazing – Thoreau, Dickens, Stowe… to name a few. After the tour, we had the opportunity to visit the archives. Climate controlled and well organized, the archives house great American treasures – from early American textiles, to historic signatures, to the never before published (but printed and bound) poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and many, many more historical items. The curators explained they have been going through a digital cataloging effort in hopes to make their historical archives more accessible worldwide.


Post lunch, we toured the gardens with Mona. She spoke of the garden’s horticultural significance and design. Alice, Longfellow’s eldest daughter, maintained the house in her later years and would admire the garden from the second floor veranda, seen in the above image. The style of the garden is Colonial Revival, characterized by a highly symmetrical overall design with vertical anchor points from taller shrubs and evergreens down to the trimmed line of boxwoods – creating a sharp line in the landscape and a central focal point. The horticultural selection was also specific to the senses – with many of the plants either producing beautiful colors, scents, or fruits.


The rest of the week I was in the office working on the edits to the vegetation matrix – which had been created prior to the site visit but needed some serious updating since 1994. I am going through all the field work, from the site visit two weeks ago in Appomattox, organizing the data and creating an existing conditions map in AutoCAD. This week I will continue working on the existing conditions working document and now can use my edited and updated vegetation matrix – now with some 400+ entries – to guide me in the location and size of the plants within the historic town core.

Until next time,

One response to “An American Home – Literature, Politics and Gardens

  1. It sounds like the team had a wonderful opportunity to not only experience the park but interact with some incredibly talented and dedicated NPS staff!

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