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.
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 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.
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 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
Richmond author James Branch Cabell enjoying the company of our lovely “Cigarette” Girls
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
Many guests really got into the spirit of the event and there were many lovely 1920s style costumes in evidence throughout the evening.
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.
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.
Guests enjoyed music by Beggars of Life and enjoyed a living history appearance from Eliza Poe (as portrayed by the lovely Debbie Phillips), who favored us with some Christmas carols that would have been familiar in her time. Guests also were introduced to Miss Emmeline Edens, a lady from the mid-19th century who shared about Christmas traditions from that era. (Emmeline was portrayed by Poe Museum docent Amber Edens.)
While they enjoyed thousands of sparkling lights and ornaments which rendered our Enchanted Garden even more enchanted than usual, our guests got to sample tasty gingerbread and hot beverages courtesy of the Dirty Apron Catering Company.
Thursday, December 8, 2011 is the bicentennial of the death of Edgar Allan Poe’s mother, Eliza Poe. Though Edgar was only two years old when he lost his mother, his “mournful and neverending remembrance” of her cast a shadow over his life and work. Although Eliza Poe’s fame has long been overshadowed by her famous son, she was actually a talented and popular actress in the early days of American theater.
In observance of the bicentennial, the Poe Museum hosted a lecture by renowned Poe scholar Richard Kopley, a performance by Eliza Poe interpreter Debbie Phillips, and an exhibit of rare artifacts related to her life and career. The weekend began with the Poe Illumination, in which the Poe Museum’s Enchanted Garden came to life with thousands of lights and holiday decorations. Below is some video of the Poe Foundation’s President, Dr. Harry Lee Poe, speaking at Eliza Poe’s grave after having laid a wreath on her monument.
The exhibit devoted to Poe’s mother continues until April 1, 2012, so be sure not to miss it. In case you can’t attend in person, some of the artifacts from the exhibit can now be seen in our online collections database.
Excellent jazz accompaniment for the evening’s festivities was provided by Jack Winn Duo and Poe fans young and old (plus a stray bat or two) really got into the spirit of the event.
Of course, this Unhappy Hour also served as the Poe Museum’s first event of our busy fall season. Make sure that you check our events calendar for information about all kinds of exciting things that will be happening in October.
First up on Sunday October 2nd from 2-4pm is the launch party for Richmond Macabre a horror anthology dedicated to Poe and featuring stories set right here in the River City. We hope to see folks at as many of our October events as possible. October is Poe’s month after all!
The theme for our July Unhappy Hour centered on Poe’s classic tale of wine and revenge, “The Cask Of Amontillado”. Since Poe’s tale is set in Italy during “the supreme madness of the Carnival season,” we decided to celebrate with a little carnival of our own in the Enchanted Garden.
It was a very hot and humid night, but we had lots of wonderful folks brave the heat to enjoy the festivities anyway and it was well worth the effort.
Local band Beggars of Life provided the perfect musical accompaniment to the evening. Here is a video of Lulu, Phineas Figg and Stinky Patterson in action in front of the Poe Shrine (video courtesy of Jason Morris):
In addition to our usual food and cash bar, we had many wonderful activities including:
* A Fortune Teller – the fabulous Madame Stephania who gave tarot readings to all who crossed her palm with silver (or carnival tickets)
* People also had the opportunity to make their own carnival masks or get their faces painted
* Thanks to the lovely Heather from The Wine Seller – people even had a chance to participate in an Amontillado tasting. They also got to learn how much wine is actually in a “pipe” of amontillado (130 gallons or 656 bottles of wine) and did NOT have to worry about getting walled up in a basement to do so!
Amontillado tasting fun
* We also had many carnival games including a chance to dig for buried treasure, coffin races, a black cat ring toss and a Wheel of MISfortune (this is a Poe-themed event, after all).
Black cat ring toss sign
Coffin race track at the ready!
Some people even wore their own masks to the event!
Awesome carnival masks
People really got into the Carnival spirit and had a great time in the middle of July.
This carnival looks like it may become an annual event – so keep an eye out for it next year.
And get ready for our next Unhappy Hour, which is coming up on August 25th. The theme will be based on Poe’s “A Descent into the Maelstrom” and will feature sea shanties with Bob Zentz and other nautical activities.