gray bullet Historic Use

Historic use of the dining room
  • The dining room was originally a kitchen for the Vassalls and for George Washington during his occupancy.
  • During the 1790s, the Craigies added the ell to the back of the House and converted this room to a dining room, adding Federal style paneling and replacing the cooking fireplace with a smaller one.
  • They added delicate dentil molding around the ceiling, also in the Federal style.


High chair
High chair

When they were young, the Longfellow children usually ate in the nursery, but sometimes they were allowed to join their parents after dinner. In 1845 Sam Longfellow wrote, "Charley fat and quiet comes to table at dessert and sits up in his tall chair and pounds on the table with his little fists - while his papa makes the 'music of the spheres' for him on a finger glass..."

As they grew older, the children regularly participated in family meals in the dining room. Letters and journals describe many lively, meals with extended family and friends.
The garden provided flowers for the table as Fanny described in a letter, "Tell Sam I found the garden in a very brilliant condition, the petunia bed especially, + was able to decorate my dinner table yesterday with a large bouquet, entirely home manufacture!"

Dining table
Dining table

In the center of the room is the round mahogany table where the Longfellows entertained many distinguished guests.   

Letters and journals describe various foods served including oysters, partridge, venison, soups, pears, preserved peaches, figs, strawberries, pudding, pie, and special foods sent from friends abroad.

The Longfellows drew upon their well-stocked wine cellar to accompany meals.

Dining room 1930s
Dining room 1930s

When the children married, they often returned for Wednesday evening family meals.
In the early 1890s, when Charley Longfellow was seriously ill, the dining room was converted to a sick room, and family meals were served in the library. He died here in 1893.

Alice used the dining room as her parents did, but after her death in 1928, residents of the house entertained less frequently.

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© 2004 Longfellow National Historic Site