Peter Harrison, 1759
National Historic Landmark
National Register of Historic Places
This, the third and most famous Brattle Street mansion, is sometimes attributed to Peter Harrison, the architect of King’s Chapel in Boston, Christ Church on the Cambridge Common, and other New England landmarks. Built for John Vassal, the elaborate and elegant mid-Georgian structure features two-story pilasters and a center pediment on its façade, the whole set on a terrace surrounded by a balustrade, with gardens to the rear. The original estate extended across the Charles River.
The house had two famous residents. George Washington lived here in 1775 during the siege of Boston, as the General of the Continental Army. Later, the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow came to the house as a boarder in 1837, and became its owner in 1843 when he married Fanny Appleton and his father-in-law bought it as a wedding gift. The most popular poet of his time, Longfellow wrote "Paul Revere's Ride" in 1860 as a call to action for the Union on the brink of the civil war. He lived in the home until his death in 1882.
The Longfellow heirs established a Trust in 1913 for the house's preservation. In 1972, the home and all of its furnishings were donated to the National Park Service, which operates it seasonally as a National Historic Site. See https://www.nps.gov/long/index.htm to learn more.