POTA at Longfellow House

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to do a POTA activation at the Longfellow House National Historic Site (US-0843) in Cambridge, MA.

Longfellow House

Come to me, O ye children!
And whisper in my ear
What the birds and the winds are singing
In your sunny atmosphere.1

About the Longfellow House

According to its official website, the Longfellow House “was a site of colonial enslavement and community activism, George Washington’s first long-term headquarters of the American Revolution, and the place where Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote his canon of 19th-century American literature.”

The house served as George Washington’s headquarters during the Siege of Boston from July 1775 to April 1776, making it an important Revolutionary War site. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow lived in the house from 1837 until his death in 1882. It was a center for literary and cultural activity during his residency. The Longfellow House was a gathering place for prominent literary figures, artists, and intellectuals of the time, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Charles Dickens.

Activating the Longfellow House

Setup at Longfellow House

I live about 7 miles from the Longfellow House. Like the Alewife Brook State Reserve that I activated recently, this is a semi-urban site. Being Sunday, I was able to drive to the site and park across the street. Note that Cambridge has strict parking enforcement with few non-resident spaces in this area on other days. So you may want to consider a Sunday activation. Alternatively, you could take the 77 MBTA bus from Harvard Sq. to this POTA site.

The park consists of a single large lot nestled in tony West Cambridge. I walked the grounds to explore a bit and find a good place to set up my Elecraft KH1 Transceiver. In the back, there was a nice garden.

Garden Garden path

Initial Setup

Just behind the visitor center on the northern end of the house, there are some picnic tables well-suited to a small rig like the KH1.

Picnic tables setup

Unfortunately, early in my activation, my radio display indicated that it was overheating and stopped transmitting. It was probably good it did so—I was so focused that I didn’t realize that I was overheating myself! So I took a break and found a new site on the southeastern side of the small park with some beautiful trees and shade. I’ll probably just set up at that location in the future. It’s out of the way of foot traffic and has great shade.

New setup location

I resumed my activation. Propagation was not good that day. I had to work fairly hard for a little over 2 hours to make 11 contacts and consider my efforts successful.

Contacts map

You can see the map of my contacts that day. Thanks to all the hunters who stuck it out that day with my little 5-watt radio, my compromised whip antenna, and poor conditions.


While I was there, the park was hosting a Pride Month event. So this is my chance to wish all LGBTQ friends and allies a Happy Pride Month!

Pride event

You’re seen and you’re loved.

  1. From the poem “Children” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow