Sept. 29, 1888: The city unveils a monument to poet and Portland native Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882).

A dedication ceremony is held beside the monument in State Street Square, which was later renamed Longfellow Square. The event features a band, a succession of speakers, and 100 schoolchildren singing Longfellow’s 1838 poem “Psalm of Life.” Several of the poet’s relatives attend.

Sculptor and Maine native Franklin Simmons designed and built the monument in his studio in Rome, Italy. Renowned local architect Francis H. Fassett designed the pedestal, and the Hawkes Brothers built it.

Longfellow was born and raised in Portland. He lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for most of his adult life, but he visited Portland then and wrote his poem “My Lost Youth” as a tribute to the city.

Joseph Owen is an author, retired newspaper editor and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. Owen’s book, “This Day in Maine,” can be ordered at To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at: [email protected]


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