bullet Historic Use

My new interest and excitement is reading all about this summer 100 years ago in Sparks and Irving, and everyday I read the letters for that date written in this room and probably by this very window where I write by dear George {Washington}!...And at night I sleep in his very room and see the moon over the river as he must have seen it,...It is grand to feel the presence of so great a man and lifts me up quite out of the present life.
—Edith Longfellow to Anne Allegra Longfellow, August 14, 1875

When the children were born, the sunny study up-stairs was given up for a nursery, and the desk and books transferred to the room directly below, so that the familiar outlook might not be changed. The seclusion of the room up-stairs was thus lost...
—Alice Mary Longfellow interview "Longfellow with His Children" The Youth's Companion September 2, 1897

Second floor plan with study highlighted
Second Floor
Room history
  • George Washington used this room as his private study in 1775-76.
  • Longfellow used this room as a study when he boarded with Mrs. Craigie after 1837.
  • Henry and Fanny used the room as a study and library after 1843.
  • The Longfellow children used the room as a nursery after 1846.
  • Miss Davey's school was in this room in the middle-1860s.
  • Edith and Annie Longfellow used this room as their bedroom after 1869.
  • Alice used this room as her study.

Henry Longfellow 1837-1843
Henry and Fanny 1843-1845
Bust of G.W. Greene
George Washington Greene
[in the downstairs study since 1845]

Henry Longfellow described his study in a letter, "In my new abode, I dwell like an Italian Prince in his villa...the first thing that meets your admiring gaze is the author of Outre Mer reclining on a sofa, in a striped calamanco morning gown: -- slippers, red [breakfast] tea and toast and a plate of waffles."

In addition to his writing table and a sofa, he kept his piano here.

For the first year of their marriage, this was Henry and Fanny's "library," as she called it in a letter, "the Library, you remember with its cozy fauteuils [armchairs], heroic bust of Greene and goodly bookcases, topped by plaster worthies, its tiled fireplace, old-fashioned mirrors, etc.  A few feminine changes alone have intruded, but it is mainly the same."

Charley Longfellow as a child
Charley Longfellow
By June 1846, this room had become the nursery.  Henry Longfellow wrote, "...Alas!  The old study! now given up as a playroom to noisy Charley, whose feet incessantly patter over my head.   Those were lovely days and nights, above there!  The room is so full of associations..."
Edith and Annie Longfellow's schoolmates
Miss Davey's School
When Edith and Annie were young, they attended school at home in this room with Miss Hannah Davey from 1862-68.  
Several neighbor children participated in the school as well.
Edith and Annie Longfellow's schoolmates
Miss Davey's School (early)
Edith and Annie's bedroom, 1871
1871 photo of Edith and Annie's bedroom

Following the family trip to Europe in 1868-69, Edith and Annie re-decorated the room they shared. They purchased new wallpaper in Paris and new black walnut furniture in Boston. The girls were allowed to choose a new carpet and chintz curtains as well.

In 1869 Edith wrote, "The paper we brought from Paris, and it is lovely. A beautiful shade of green with bright birds and leaves. The furniture is all black walnut, my bureau being the only old thing suffered to remain."

The spinning wheel by the fire indicates their interest in the Colonial Revival.

1917 photograph of study
1917 photograph of Alice's study

Alice had a library table for her desk as well as a secretary type desk and bookcase between the windows.

She had several comfortable chairs as well as a day bed in her study.

Closeup of fireplace wall
Study today
Alice's study

Today Alice's study contains a writing desk, wing chair, and day bed in the center of the room, depicting the room as it looked in about 1912.

Many of Alice's Arts and Crafts style objects are displayed here.


Back to Alice's Study
© 2004 Longfellow National Historic Site