Museum News


Poe’s Enchanted Garden Shines in 90-Year-Old Postcards


Virginia’s first literary museum, the Poe Shrine (now the Edgar Allan Poe Museum) opened in 1922 with a weekend of events held in its newly planted Enchanted Garden. Two years later, the Poe Shrine commissioned the London firm Raphael Tuck and Sons, Publishers to the King and Queen, to immortalize the Garden in a series of post cards. The artist S. Shelton produced the series pictured here.

Enchanted Garden and Old Stone House of the Edgar Allan Poe Shrine, Richmond, VA in April

Enchanted Garden and Old Stone House of the Edgar Allan Poe Shrine in June

The Loggia and Enchanted Garden. The Edgar Allan Poe Shrine, Richmond VA

A number of letters between the Poe Shrine and Raphael Tuck and Sons attest to the level of accuracy and detail expected by the Shrine’s board. In addition to containing several photographs of the site, the board’s letters stressed the importance of such details as the names and colors of the flowers as well as the “atmosphere and charm of this quaint little garden.”

Today, as the Garden Club of Virginia begins its historic restoration of the Enchanted Garden, the landscape architects Rieley & Associates have found these prints especially useful in their planning. While the Museum owns several black-and-white photos of the original garden—and even a card catalog of the first plantings—Shelton’s paintings show the color schemes and provide a more complete idea of the founders’ intentions.

Ninety years after Shelton painted these pictures, the Poe Museum has grown to encompass three more buildings to house Poe artifacts, the Enchanted Garden is still the heart of the complex. In about a month, the spring flowers will be in bloom, and the Garden Club’s restoration will be well underway. Pay the Poe Museum a visit or check this blog for the latest updates. If you are an artist and are inspired by these post cards to paint or draw your own pictures of the Enchanted Garden this spring, you will not want to miss out on our upcoming exhibit Painting the Enchanted Garden. Click here to learn more about this opportunity.




Be a Part of the Poe Museum’s Exhibit


You can be a part of the Poe Museum’s upcoming exhibit Painting the Enchanted Garden. If you are an artist, your pictures of the Poe Museum’s Enchanted Garden could be displayed this May 22-July 20 at the Poe Museum. Click here to read more about this historic garden. Read below for more information about the exhibition opportunity.

Painting by S. Shelton, 1924

This year, the Garden Club of Virginia will restore the Poe Museum’s legendary Enchanted Garden to its original 1920s beauty. In honor of this historic restoration, the Poe Museum invites artists of all skill levels to paint, draw, or photograph the Enchanted Garden for inclusion in its new exhibit Painting the Enchanted Garden, opening May 22 and continuing through July 20. Beginning April 27, artists may bring their easels, drawing pads, or tripods to the Poe Museum to make pieces for inclusion in the show.

Details:
Because the garden is often used for special events, interested artists should contact the Museum’s curator Chris Semtner at 804-648-5523 or chris@poemuseum.org to schedule their visits. Artists must confirm their participation with Chris Semtner at the Poe Museum by May 1 in order to participate in the exhibit, but they will have until May 18 to deliver their work to the Museum. Paint must be dry by the time of delivery, and all works must be professionally presented/framed with picture wire for hanging. The Poe Museum retains the right not to display any work that is deemed inappropriate for the exhibit or is not properly presented. Works may be for sale, and the Poe Museum will retain a 40% commission from these sales to help support the Museum’s educational mission.

Painting Workshops:
Those interested in more formal painting sessions may attend a plein air (outdoors) painting workshop with landscape painter Charles Philip Brooks on April 27 from 2 to 6 P.M. at a cost of $90 or a guided painting session with painter Chris Semtner on May 11 from 2 to 6 P.M. at a cost of $25. You can reserve a spot at Brooks’s workshop by clicking here. You can reserve a spot at Semtner’s workshop by clicking here. Artists participating in the exhibit are not required to attend one of these workshops, but they must confirm their participation with the Poe Museum by May 1 in order to participate in the exhibit.

More Information:
For more information and a prospectus, contact Chris the Poe Museum at 804-648-5523 or chris@poemuseum.org.

Sketch by W.J. Moll, 1922




Getrude Stein Visits the Poe Museum


If you think 2014 has been cold, you should see this picture of Getrude Stein (1874-1946) taken during her February 7, 1935 visit to the Poe Museum.

The poet spent a few days in Richmond during her six-month tour of the United States in 1934-35. While in the River City, she was entertained at the home of Richmond novelist Ellen Glasgow, gave a lecture about English Literature at the University of Richmond, and was given a reception by the board of the Poe Foundation in the Poe Museum’s Tea House (now its Exhibits Building).

Stein’s friend, the photographer and writer Carl Van Vechten (1880-1964), took these photos of her at the Poe Museum. Each photograph is autographed by both Stein and Van Vechten, and Stein wrote captions. Here are the images with their captions.

“To the Poe Foundation with much pleasure”

“For the Poe Shrine and open”

“For the Poe Shrine [illegible]”

This is the same hitching post, in a different location, today.

Stein and Van Vechten are just two of the important literary and cultural figures who have visited the Poe Museum over the past ninety-two years. Others include H.P. Lovecraft, Henry Miller, and Salvador Dali.




Tie the Knot in the Enchanted Garden!


The Enchanted Garden at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum is covered in snow as we write this, but soon Spring flowers will bring this lovely space to life, and with it, love will blossom too in the form of 15 planned weddings so far this year.

“You have weddings, at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum?” you might ask with wonder.  Yes, definitely yes!  We do!

The engagement season has been in full swing since December, and we are getting more interest in the Enchanted Garden as a wedding site than ever before.  Why is this?  Brides tell us they are drawn to the garden because of its intimate setting, as well as its quirky and historic background.  The bounty of nature and lovely plantings makes it even more desirable as a venue for that most special and lovely event in a bride or groom’s life. In these tight budget times, it is one of the most affordable spaces to host a wedding in Richmond.

So what do you get when you chose the Poe Museum as your wedding site?  For starters, you get the satisfaction of knowing you are creating a memorable experience for you and your guests.  As history goes, it is hard to beat the site itself, in business as a cultural center of Richmond since 1922.  As the only literary museum in the state of Virginia, the Edgar Allan Poe Museum has a sense of sophistication and an ambiance that you look for in a wedding site.  It is ideal for ceremonies and receptions, and our Bookings Coordinator Amber Edens will be glad to assist you in making arrangements for all the details that will make your wedding day a big success.  Call or email Amber Edens today to begin the joyful process that ends with the two simple words, “I do!”

You can contact Amber at:
amber@poemuseum.org  or  (804) 648-5523

Tours of the garden available Friday-Sunday 12pm-5pm by appointment.




Poe Museum Thanks Its Members


The Poe Museum greatly appreciates the support of its many members, so, as a way of saying thanks, the museum will host a weekend of activities for its members only. On November 16 and 17, Poe Museum members can take special tours of Poe sites that are not regularly open to the public, and they will have a chance to search for evidence of paranormal activity in the Poe Museum.

The weekend kicks off Saturday, November 16 at noon with a tour of Monumental Church (pictured above), the church Poe attended as a boy with his foster parents John and Frances Allan. Members will have the opportunity to sit in the Allan family pew where Poe would have sat, and they will learn about the dark origins of this memorial built on the site of the 1811 Richmond Theater Fire.

Then, on November 16 from 8 P.M. until midnight, Poe Museum members can participate in a special members-only paranormal investigation of the Poe Museum, where the apparition of a young boy is said to appear in the garden. Investigators Spirited History will lead the investigation and provide the equipment. They have investigated the site before and claim to have collected a great deal of evidence that something paranormal occupies the garden.

Finally, on Sunday, November 17 at 1 P.M., members are invited to attend a special tour of the Hiram Haines Coffee House (pictured above) in Petersburg, where Poe is said to have spent his honeymoon. The owner, Jeff Abugel (author of Edgar Allan Poe’s Petersburg), will take the group on a special tour of the rooms Poe and his wife would have occupied during their stay. Afterwards, Poe Museum docent Alyson Taylor-White will provide a walking tour of Petersburg historic sites Poe would have seen during his visit.

**UPDATE**
The tour of Monumental Church has been rescheduled for Saturday, November 23 at noon.

If you are interested in attending any of these events, please RSVP to Amber Edens by emailing amber@poemuseum.org or by calling 888-21-EAPOE. Space is limited, so please reserve your spot today.

If you are not a member or have not renewed your membership, you join today on our website.




Poe Museum Finally Acquires Old Stone House


After ninety-one years occupying the Old Stone House, the Poe Foundation finally owns the building. On Saturday, October 5, 2013, Anne Geddy Cross (pictured above), President of President of Preservation Virginia, signed the Deed of Gift transferring the house and garden from Preservation Virginia to the Poe Foundation. The Poe Foundation’s Past President Harry Lee Poe and its new President Annemarie Weathers Beebe gratefully accepted the gift. Preservation Virginia’s Director of Preservation Services Louis Malon and the Poe Museum’s Curator Chris Semtner, who have both been coordinating the transfer process over the past few years, were in attendance to witness the event. Before the transfer could take place, an easement was registered with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to protect the house from significant changes that would alter its historic character.

Representing the Ege family, who owned the property from at least 1748 until 1911, Tina Egge, fifth great niece of Jacob Ege (different branches of the family spelled the name differently), the builder of the house, attended the event. Rose Marie Mitchell, who has written a new book about the history of the Old Stone House, spoke and signed copies of her book in the Exhibits Building, which featured a temporary exhibit documenting the history of the house.

The Poe Foundation has owned the rest of the Poe Museum buildings and grounds since the 1920s, so it is fitting that the Old Stone House should finally come under its ownership. Although the enormous gift and the new easement are significant developments for the Poe Foundation, the museum’s visitors will not see a dramatic change in the way the museum operates. They will, however, see some dramatic changes next spring when the major Enchanted Garden restoration project sponsored by the Garden Club of Virginia is underway.




Poe’s Poetry Comes Alive in the Enchanted Garden


April is National Poetry Month and the perfect time for a visit to the Poe Museum. Not only is the Poe Museum currently exhibiting a manuscript for Poe’s early poem “To Helen” as well as rare first editions of Poe’s volumes Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems, Poems, and The Raven and Other Poems, but the Museum is also home to a garden inspired by Poe’s poetry.

The Poe Museum’s legendary Enchanted Garden opened in April 1922 as Virginia’s first memorial to Edgar Allan Poe. The garden remains the heart of the Poe Museum complex and continues to thrive as a living embodiment of Poe’s poetic ideals. The name of the garden was borrowed from a line from Poe’s 1848 version of “To Helen.” The layout was derived from his poem “To One in Paradise,” and most of the flowers, trees, and shrubs were mentioned in hiss poems and short stories. Among the many plants visitors will encounter in the Enchanted Garden are begonias, clematis, geraniums, hyacinths, hydrangeas, pansies, roses, violets, and tulips. The grassy lawns are lined with ivy (said to have been taken from Poe’s mother’s grave at St. John’s Church), and the exterior staircase is covered in jasmine. Shade is provided by lovely old boxwoods which have grown to the size of trees. Other trees and shrubs include dogwoods, camellias, a magnolia, and a huge photinia, each of which displays beautiful flowers at different times of the year.

In addition to planting a variety of colorful plants, the founders of the Poe Museum incorporated building materials from a number of demolished buildings associated with the poet. The pergola was constructed using bricks and granite salvaged from the office of the Southern Literary Messenger, the magazine at which Poe began his career in journalism. The garden also contains elements from Poe’s foster father’s office, a boarding house in which Poe lived in Richmond, and from one of Poe’s New York homes.

If a garden seems an unusual memorial to a writer best known for his tales of murder and madness, you might be surprised to learn Poe loved nature and wrote a number of pieces about nature and landscape gardens. Among these are “Morning on the Wissahiccon,” “The Landor’s Cottage,” and “The Domain of Arnheim.” In the following passage from “The Domain of Arnheim,” Poe explains how a garden is like a poem:

“Ellison became neither musician nor poet; although no man lived more profoundly enamored of music and poetry. Under other circumstances than those which invested him, it is not impossible that he would have become a painter. Sculpture, although in its nature rigorously poetical was too limited in its extent and consequences, to have occupied, at any time, much of his attention. And I have now mentioned all the provinces in which the common understanding of the poetic sentiment has declared it capable of expatiating. But Ellison maintained that the richest, the truest, and most natural, if not altogether the most extensive province, had been unaccountably neglected. No definition had spoken of the landscape-gardener as of the poet; yet it seemed to my friend that the creation of the landscape-garden offered to the proper Muse the most magnificent of opportunities. Here, indeed, was the fairest field for the display of imagination in the endless combining of forms of novel beauty; the elements to enter into combination being, by a vast superiority, the most glorious which the earth could afford. In the multiform and multicolor of the flowers and the trees, he recognized the most direct and energetic efforts of Nature at physical loveliness. And in the direction or concentration of this effort — or, more properly, in its adaptation to the eyes which were to behold it on earth — he perceived that he should be employing the best means — laboring to the greatest advantage — in the fulfillment, not only of his own destiny as poet, but of the august purposes for which the Deity had implanted the poetic sentiment in man.”

A visit to the Enchanted Garden is like walking through Poe’s poetry, and National Poetry Month is a great time to see the spring flowers in bloom.




Spring Comes to the Poe Museum’s Garden


It may still be February, but spring has already arrived in the Poe Museum’s Enchanted Garden. Several flowers are in bloom, and more are on their way. Here are some photos taken yesterday in the garden.

Beginning in 1921, the Poe Foundation created this garden as Richmond, Virginia’s memorial to Edgar Allan Poe. The museum’s founders planted trees, flowers, and shrubs mentioned in Poe’s works and incorporated bricks and granite from Poe’s Richmond homes and places of employment into the walls, paths, benches, and shrine. Even the layout is based on descriptions taken from Poe’s poetry.

The Poe Museum and its Enchanted Garden opened in April 1922. Nine decades later, the garden remains the heart of the Poe Museum complex. In addition to showcasing Poe’s favorite plants and hosting Poe Museum events, the garden has become a popular wedding venue–even earning the distinction of being named one of this year’s top wedding sites by Virginia Living Magazine.

The next time you stop by the Poe Museum, be sure to devote part of your visit to exploring this beautiful oasis in the middle of downtown Richmond.




Celebrate the Season with the Poe Illumination


Join us on Friday, November 30 from 6-10 P.M. when the Poe Museum’s historic Enchanted Garden comes alive with thousands of lights as the Museum rings in the holiday season with the free “Poe Illumination.” Guests will enjoy hot apple cider and traditional Christmas music while costumed interpreters show them what Christmas was like during Poe’s time. Additionally, the Poe Museum will be displaying some of the actual gifts Poe gave his friends and family in Richmond. Included in the display will be a small watercolor Poe himself might have painted and a book of children’s stories he autographed and gave to a young girl. Kids can enjoy making Victorian Christmas crafts while adults can visit our cash bar for mulled wine. Click here for photos of last year’s Poe Illumination.




The Poe Museum celebrates its 90th Anniversary with a Jazz Age Unhappy Hour


The Poe Museum first opened its doors to the public on April 26th, 1922.
On April 26, 2012, the museum celebrated its 90th birthday with a 1920s themed Unhappy Hour.

Lovely 1920s "Cigarette Girls" take a break for photos during Unhappy Hour

Poe Museum volunteers (the esteemed Heather and Courtney) posing as “Cigarette Girls” to collect donations to keep the Poe Museum around for another 90 years

For such an auspicious occasion we wanted to do something extra special so we managed to arrange for some 1920s authors to travel through time (perhaps in an old Ford a la Midnight In Paris?) and regale guests with tales of their lives and work as well as their interest in Poe. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, H.P. Lovecraft and James Branch Cabell were all on hand to pay tribute to Poe and to mingle with Unhappy Hour guests. (Many thanks to our wonderful living history actors that helped us bring them to life!)

The Fitzgeralds and Gertrude Stein in the Enchanted Garden

The Fitzgeralds and Gertrude Stein at Unhappy Hour

"H.P. Lovecraft" reading a poem of his own about Poe at Unhappy Hour

Author H. P. Lovecraft of Providence, Rhode Island, reading his poem “In a Sequester’d Providence Churchyard Where Once Poe Walk’d

"James Branch Cabell" and friends at Unhappy Hour

Richmond author James Branch Cabell enjoying the company of our lovely “Cigarette” Girls

State Delegate Jennifer McClellan posing in the Enchanted Garden

State Delegate Jennifer McClellan in the Enchanted Garden during the event

In addition to our 1920s authors State Delegate Jennifer McClellan was kind enough to pay us a visit and was gracious enough to help us out in acting as a judge for our 1920s costume contest (along with Scott and Sandi Bergman, owners of Haunts of Richmond).

1920s Costume Contest participants

1920s Costume Contest Participants

Many guests really got into the spirit of the event and there were many lovely 1920s style costumes in evidence throughout the evening.

Posing at Unhappy HourEnjoying Unhappy Hour

Enjoying Unhappy HourEnjoying Unhappy Hour

Assorted guests getting into the spirit of the evening

A great jazz accompaniment to the festivities was provided by the John Winn Duo.

Guests were able to get a chance to see our new exhibit “From Poe’s Quill: The Letters and Manuscripts of Edgar Allan Poe” which provides a unique opportunity to examine dozens of Edgar Allan Poe’s original manuscripts, including several never before displayed in public, a heretofore unknown draft version of his poem “To Helen” and even an alleged manuscript written by Poe frombeyond the grave transcribed with the help of a medium!

It was a wonderful celebration and we at the Poe Museum are very grateful to everyone who came out to enjoy and make it a success. As usual, you can check out more photos (and even share some of your own if you have some you’d like to share!) on the Poe Museum’s flickr group.

Check out a short candid video of the fun courtesy of Christine Stoddard of Quail Bell Productions:

And get ready because our 90th Anniversary celebrations will be continuing all year – our NEXT Unhappy Hour will take place on May 24th and will feature Poe’s short story “Berenice”. Music will be provided by Richmond’s celebrated world jazz ensemble Rattlemouth.