Organizations join to offer bus trip to Portland museums

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BETHEL – The Western Maine Senior College and SAD 44 Adult Education, in association with the Bethel Historical Society, have announced a tour of two Portland museums on Friday, June 23. The price is $25 and will cover round-trip transportation from Bethel, plus admission to the Maine Historical Society’s Wadsworth-Longfellow House and the Tate House in Stroudwater.

Three generations of one family who made contributions to the political, literary and cultural life of New England and the United States lived at the Longfellow House.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) grew up in the house and went on to become one of the most famous Americans of his time. His grandfather, General Pegleg Wadsworth, built the house in 1785-86, and the last person to live there, Alice Longfellow Pierce, was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s sister, who was widowed at an early age and lived in the house until her death in 1901.

At that time, in accordance with her will, the house passed to the Maine Historical Society to be preserved as a memorial to her brother and their family. Virtually all of the household items and artifacts there are original to the Wadsworth and Longfellow families.

Furnishings from three generations illustrate changes in style, technology and attitude over the 19th century. Pegleg and Elizabeth Wadsworth raised 10 children in the house before retiring to the family farm in Hiram in 1807. The Wadsworth-Longfellow house is also an important architectural artifact of New England’s past. Originally a two-story structure with a pitched roof, it was the first wholly brick building in Portland.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s parents, Zilpah and Stephen Longfellow, added a third story to the house in 1815. The Longfellow house is the only single-family residence to survive downtown Congress Street’s change from a mixed commercial and residential neighborhood on the edge of town to an urban business district. It is the oldest standing building on the Portland peninsula.

After 2 years of renovation to the era of the 1850s, the house re-opened to the public in June 2002.

The Captain George Tate House was built in 1755. When Tate arrived in Maine in the mid-18th century, he laid claim to the state’s tallest white pines for use as masts on British sailing ships. His financial success as a merchant allowed him to build his impressive Georgian home. The house survived the American Revolution and is now the only pre-Revolutionary Portland home open to the public as a museum. There is also an 18th-century herb garden open to the public as well.

Participants in the tour must be members of the Western Maine Senior College or the Bethel Historical Society. The tour is limited to 40 on a first-come, first-serve basis. Those taking the tour may bring their lunch or have a meal in any one of the several nearby restaurants.

The deadline for registration is June 10. Checks made payable to Western Maine Senior College should be mailed to WMSC, P.O. Box 1305, Bethel, ME 04217. For more information, call Jackie Cressy of the college at 824-0508 or the society at 824-2908.

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