Henry Wadsworth Longfellow House

America’s beloved poet received as a wedding gift a grand home in Cambridge, Massachusetts that served as headquarters for General George Washington to command the Continental Army during the Siege of Boston in July 1775 through April 1776. Henry hoped to maintain the home for history sake and also unknowingly preserved it for his legacy.
A professor at Harvard University, Longfellow soon became famous worldwide and quite wealthy when he began publishing his poems.  Among Henry’s famous visitors were his good friend Charles Dickens, as well as Nathaniel Hawthorne, politicians, actors, musicians, and others. The house is filled with Longfellow’s love for literature, furniture, paintings, busts, and other treasures that reflected culture and the man’s interests.
Henry’s second wife tragically died in their home when her dress caught fire and she was severely burned. She passed away in their upstairs bedroom, leaving Henry grief stricken. Longfellow often looked at his wife’s picture which hung on the wall directly across from his bed, with light flickering on her image. The poet himself died in the same house which he loved while in his latter years, actually in the same bed his beloved wife had passed away in.
The home has at least one reported sighting of an apparition in the upstairs bedroom. A man saw the apparition, holding an easel, looking out the window down toward the garden. Could it have been one of Longfellow’s sons, a talented artist named Ernest, who was possibly seen looking out of the upstairs window with an artist’s easel in hand?

During our visit to 105 Brattle Street, our wonderful tour guide shared that he had experienced a “feeling” of a presence at times in the house, which was described to us as “cobwebs on the skin.” Yet, when he looked for the cobwebs, there was nothing there in the physical touching him. This experience occurred while moving one of the objects on display in a room. Are there ghosts in the house of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow? Henry himself seemed to think so, as he wrote a poem entitled “Haunted Houses” (below), whereby he declared that all houses are haunted where men once lived and died.

"All houses wherein men have lived and died
Are haunted houses. Through the open doors
The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,
With feet that make no sound upon the floors.

We meet them at the door-way, on the stair,
Along the passages they come and go,
Impalpable impressions on the air,
A sense of something moving to and fro.

There are more guests at table, than the hosts
Invited; the illuminated hall
Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,
As silent as the pictures on the wall.

The stranger at my fireside cannot see
The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear;
He but perceives what is; while unto me
All that has been is visible and clear.

We have no title-deeds to house or lands;
Owners and occupants of earlier dates
From graves forgotten stretch their dusty hands,
And hold in mortmain still their old estates.

The spirit-world around this world of sense
Floats like an atmosphere, and everywhere
Wafts through these earthly mists and vapors dense
A vital breath of more ethereal air.

Our little lives are kept in equipoise
By opposite attractions and desires;
The struggle of the instinct that enjoys,
And the more noble instinct that aspires.

These perturbations, this perpetual jar
Of earthly wants and aspirations high,
Come from the influence of an unseen star,
An undiscovered planet in our sky.

And as the moon from some dark gate of cloud
Throws o'er the sea a floating bridge of light,
Across whose trembling planks our fancies crowd
Into the realm of mystery and night,--

So from the world of spirits there descends
A bridge of light, connecting it with this,
O'er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,
Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss."

- "Haunted Houses" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow