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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Monument
When this staute was unveiled on M and Connecticut Streets NW, the place was absolutely buzzing. The heroic bronze figure sat draped in his academic robe, book in hand, and looked out on the streets packed with the wide spectrum of adoring fans: men, women, and children “of all races and nationalities.”
It was May 7, 1909. The Marine Band played "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "America the Beautiful" while the flag that had previously covered the statue “floated above the heads of the great throng.” Then a Reverend blessed the ceremony—such was the power of the man!
And yet for all the pomp with which it was dedicated, when DCist went to see this monument of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow one recent evening, we could hardly see him. The man described as “the joyful, enthusiastic mouthpiece of what was best in his time” sits unlit, alone, and stranded on an island in the middle of the noisy intersection southeast of Dupont Circle.
Rev. George R. Grose wrote in the Zion’s Herald that at the dedication there was a large shield in the middle of the platform which read (from Longfellow’s “The Building of a Ship”):
“Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
Humanity, with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!”
The only inscription we could find was one word: LONGFELLOW.
Even though interest in the monument has obviously waned considerably—our contact at the NPS said, “In my six years here, no on has ever asked about the monument”—the original context of the monument’s construction is, as the Revisiting Series tends to find with most forgotten monuments, rather fascinating.
The monument was erected not only as a testament to one of this country’s greatest poets, but also as a statement of American culture. For at the time of the unveiling, according to Grose, there were no national monuments in D.C. that commemorated American literature.
Grose mentions the Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey, and is both relieved and jubilant that the nation was able to raise the $35,000—“by gifts from rich and poor”—to celebrate Longfellow’s contribution to American literature and society. Grose was sure the monument cemented the U.S.’s legitimacy in global culture and expressed the nation’s propulsion into a new age. Indeed, Longfellow, “while he makes us feel the nobility of his white soul, and brings close to our view the great, simple, normal life of humanity,” would be a fine model for America as it sought to keep its morals and traditions in order while adjusting to a frenetically industrialized, internationalizing modernity.
There may not be “flags, wreaths, and festoons of laurel and bunches of iris, the poet’s favorite flower,” commemorating Longfellow anymore, but surely we have space in our hearts for a little appreciation for one of the most important figures in American literature. So next time you find yourself stuck in traffic or transitioning from one Dupont bar to another, take a second to pay your respects. Remember peaceful old Longfellow, the poet who was not only "the purest democrat known to humanity," but a crucial player in this country's cultural maturation.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882) was an American poet whose works include Paul Revere's Ride, A Psalm of Life, The Song of Hiawatha and Evangeline. He also wrote the first American translation of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy and was one of the five members of the group known as the Fireside Poets. Longfellow was born and raised in the Portland, Maine area. He attended university at an early age at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. After several journeys overseas, Longfellow settled for the last forty-five years of his life in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a wood frame house once occupied during the American Revolution by General George Washington and his staff.
Early life and education
Birthplace in c. 1910Longfellow was born in 1807 to Stephen and Zilpah (Wadsworth) Longfellow in Portland, Maine, and grew up in what is now known as the Wadsworth-Longfellow House. His father was a lawyer, and his maternal grandfather, Peleg Wadsworth Sr., was a general in the American Revolutionary War. He was descended from the Longfellow family that came to America in 1676 from Yorkshire, England and from Priscilla and John Alden on his father's side
Longfellow's siblings were Stephen (1805), Elizabeth (1808), Anne (1810), Alexander (1814), Mary (1816), Ellen (1818), and Samuel (1819).
Longfellow was enrolled in a "dame school" at the age of only three, and by age six, when he entered the Portland Academy, he was able to read and write quite well. He remained at the Portland Academy until the age of fourteen and entered Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine
State Theater Uniontown Pa
Stage area from the second balcony of the State Theater
STATE THEATRE - PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE
The State Theatre was hailed as "the largest, finest and most beautiful playhouse in Western Pennsylvania," upon its opening in the fall of 1922. With many accolades it became a "picture place," showing silent movies and presenting vaudeville's finest acts from the B.F. Keith Circuit.
Thomas Lamb, a nationally known theater architect, designed the State. He is best known for his work in the 18th century Robert Adam's style of architecture and for his fine acoustical planning. The Ingstrip-Burke Company of Chicago, Art Designers, decorated the interior of the Moderne structure in the Adam's style. The theme was that of "refinement of line and chasteness of ornamentation." The artist in charge, Michael Tomlin, educated at the School of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Russia, pronounced himself well-satisfied: "It is better than I hoped, it is what I dreamed."
The State Symphony Orchestra held forth in the pit with a $40,000.00 Pleubet Master Organ at the left front of the main floor - accompanying the silent films to fit the mood. As the Big Band sound emerged, the State hosted some of the country's greatest musical attractions including Paul Whitman, Glen Gray and the Dorsey Brothers.
The popularity of "talkies" signaled the end for in-house musicians and the end of vaudeville. Although the greatest names in Hollywood flickered across the screen and epics such as Gone With the Wind drew packed audiences, the State's days as a movie palace were numbered. Television took away a sizable audience and the movie theatre trend turned to multiple screens and smaller auditoriums: The State Theatre closed in June 1973.
After a number of years the theatre reopened as The State Music Hall, featuring county and western music legends like Johnny Cash, Slim Whitman, Waylon Jennings and The Statler Brothers. Though popular for a time, the State Music Hall concept did not work out and the theatre closed again.
In 1988, The Greater Uniontown Heritage Consortium purchased the theatre, restored its old name and began presenting aseries of professional programs ranging from Broadway musicals to big bands, symphonies to country music superstars. The State Theatre offers a children's series of shows and provides educational programming for school groups. A multi-million dollar restoration project is currently underway to restore the "Grand Old Lady of Main Street" to her original splendor.
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