Model of Richmond in Poe's Time
The noted Richmond sculptor Edward Valentine, suggested to Mr. And Mrs. Archer Jones that a model of Richmond in Poe's time be made and recommended Miss Edith Ragland as the builder. After much research with the help of the City Engineer's office and local historians work began in 1925. The model was to depict the area from 5th (Moldavia) to 25th Streets (St. John's Church).
Completed in 1927, the model remained in the West Room of the Old Stone House until 1964 when it was moved to its present building. Miss Ragland was again hired to restore the model and repair any damage caused by the move. Sergei Troubetzkoy completed additional renovations in 1984. The disastrous fire of November 1999 required restoration and cleaning which employees Michelle Dell' Aria and Chris Semtner completed late in 2000. At that time the model was moved from the east to west wall, tilted for better viewing and a time line was added.
The Poe Museum owns one of the largest collections of Poe memorabilia in the world, much of it now currently on display. Fans of Poe will enjoy seeing the walking stick he accidentally left in Richmond fewer than two weeks before his mysterious death, the key found in his pocket during his final delirious days that opened the trunk in which he packed his few possessions, and the lock of hair a friend clipped from the poet's famously lofty brow after he died.
Encounter Poe’s world by studying the items he owned, like irons from his boyhood home, a soup ladle from his last residence, Poe’s trunk, and clothing belonging to Poe and to his mother-in-law Maria Clemm. Poe’s wife Virginia’s trinket box and mirror are displayed alongside a portrait of her.
The Poe Museum houses a fine collection of furniture and decorative objects from Poe’s homes in Richmond. Among these items are the author’s boyhood bed, and staircase from one of his homes, and a number of chairs, tables, paintings, China, and glassware. The Museum also displays furniture from his sister’s homes as well as such personal items as her piano, sewing box, and handkerchief case. Among the other pieces in the Museum’s collection are a sofa and two desks from the office of The Southern Literary Messenger, where Poe began his career in journalism, the chair Poe is believed to have used while working there, and pieces from both the house where Poe wrote “The Bells” and from the hotel in which he gave his last public reading.
Poe and the people in his life appear throughout the Museum in a number of exceptional oil paintings, miniatures, engravings, drawings, and sculptures displayed throughout the Poe Museum complex. Among the works are priceless portraits of Poe’s foster parents and a large 1647 oil painting of the Holy Family that once hung in one of Poe’s boyhood homes. Among the more unusual paintings in the collection is a small watercolor of a weeping woman that Poe is said to have owned. Another highlight is a series of forty-three ink and wash illustrations to “The Raven” executed by the artist James Carling between 1882 and 1887.
Meet the people closest to the author as you see them represented in the Poe Museum’s extensive collection of rare daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, albumen prints, tintypes, and opaltypes. Among those represented are Poe’s sister Rosalie Mackenzie Poe, his mother-in-law Maria Clemm, and his twice-fiancée Elmira Royster Shelton. The finest daguerreotype in the collections is the 1850s Cornwell Daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe, one of four copies made before the original plate disappeared around 1860. The Poe Museum also owns photographs of Edgar Poe that were owned by his fiancée Elmira Shelton and by his sister Rosalie Poe. According to an inscription on the back of the photograph, the owner of one of the Museum’s Poe pictures swam alongside Poe during part of the author’s record-setting six-mile swim in the James River.
See the rare first editions of Poe’s books and the first printings of Poe’s tales as they appeared in the magazines and newspapers of his time. While items are rotated on and off view to protect them from light exposure, we attempt at any given time to display a selection of books and periodicals that demonstrates the broad range of Poe’s literary and journalistic output from non-fiction to science-fiction, detective stories, and tales of terror. The books range from his earliest published works to his last volume, Eureka, published one year before his death. In between, you may find a few surprises, like The Conchologist’s First Book, a textbook on shells.
The Poe Museum owns manuscripts and letters written not only by Edgar Poe but also by his mother-in-law, his literary executor, his business partners, his friends, and his enemies. Among the items written by Poe are pages from his tale “Siope” and portions of “Marginalia” and “The Poetic Principle.” His letters in the collection include one to his employer Thomas White and a number written to magazine editors and friends. Highlights of the collection of manuscripts written by his acquaintances are a ca.1860 essay “The Genius and Characteristics of Edgar Allan Poe” by Southern Literary Messenger editor John R. Thompson and Poe family genealogical records written by George Poe and his descendants. To protect these delicate items from excessive light exposure, these items are rotated on and off display so that only a small selection is ever on view at one time. The items are displayed in low light that it activated by a motion detector when our guests enter the gallery.
Poe and his works have been a fixture in popular culture ever since “The Raven” caused an international sensation in 1845. The Poe Museum avidly collects items like movie posters, comic books, advertisements, records, videos, commemorative stamps, and toys that feature Poe and his works. One of the largest pieces on display to the Poe Museum is an 1885 marble and bronze memorial to the author. One of the smallest is a bronze bell with a handle in the shape of Poe.
Since the Poe Museum opened, it has amassed a reference library of books, magazine articles, essays, and lectures exploring Poe’s life and work as well as such topics as Virginia history, Southern Literature, and nineteenth century culture. Scholars and researchers are welcome to use the library by appointment.
The Enchanted Garden
The Poe Museum began in 1921 as the Poe Shrine, the highlight of which was the Enchanted Garden inspired by the gardens described in Poe’s poetry. The landscaped garden contains a Poe Shrine constructed from the bricks and granite salvaged from the building in which Poe edited the Southern Literary Messenger. After extensive restoration by Hampton Hotels’ Save a Landmark Program in 2008, the Poe Museum’s garden now appears much as it did during the 1920s, when it was already a destination for visiting writers from around the globe. Today the garden is the site of monthly Unhappy Hours and weddings.
Download the Musuem Guide (PDF)