Benjamin Wadsworth House (1726)


In 1726, a house was constructed on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, on the site where Harvard’s earliest building, the Peyntree House, had stood. It was first occupied by Harvard’s fourth president, Benjamin Wadsworth, his family and two slaves. After Wadsworth, it would serve as the home of eight other presidents, until 1849, when president Jared Sparks chose to reside in his own Cambridge home. During the Revolutionary War, the house was Washington’s first headquarters when he came to command the army during the siege of Boston in 1775. Do to its state of disrepair at the time, Washington soon moved to other quarters. Over the years, the house would serve as lodging for visiting ministers and student boarders (including Ralph Waldo Emerson). The building now houses the Office of the University Marshal and other offices. The Wadsworth House lost its front yard when Massachusetts Avenue was widened. Today it is the second oldest of Harvard’s surviving buildings, after Massachusetts Hall.

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