On October 5 at 1 P.M., the Poe Museum will receive the largest gift in its history, a house. The house just happens to be the oldest in Richmond, the Old Stone House. Though we are not exactly certain when it was built, dendrochronology (testing of the tree rings in wood) dates the floorboards to 1754. For over ninety years, the Poe Museum has occupied the house, which remains the property of Preservation Virginia, formerly known as the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, while the other three buildings in the Poe Museum complex belong to the Poe Foundation.
The history of the Old Stone House is a colorful one. From the 1740s until 1911, the property was owned by the Ege family, who were among the first residents of the city. In 1781, one of the residents, Elizabeth Ege Welsh, supposedly saw Benedict Arnold invade and set fire to Richmond from the house. By the 1840s, the house appears in guide books for visitors to the city. Around 1881, the house was rented to R. L. Potter, “The Wheelbarrow Man,” who used it to exhibit an assortment of unusual objects he had collected while pushing a wheelbarrow from New York to California and back. One account says he even displayed a live bear in one of the rooms. In 1894, the house was known as Washington’s Headquarters Antiquarium and Relic Museum, which published a guide book to perpetuate some tall tales about how the house had been built by Powhatan, used as a courthouse by Patrick Henry, and used as George Washington’s headquarters during the American Revolution (though Washington never actually set foot in the city during that war). Some old postcards show the house with a large “Washington’s Headquarters” sign hanging next to the front door.
In 1913, the Ege family lost the property, and Granville Valentine purchased the building to save it from destruction. Valentine, in turn, donated it to the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, who tried to find someone to rent it. A renter who had intended to use it as an antique store left because the property was being vandalized. Then Archer Jones, owner of the Duplex Envelope Company, approached the APVA with the idea of using the house as a museum of Colonial history. Jones and his wife soon met the Poe collector James Whitty, who wanted to reconstruct the recently demolished office of the Southern Literary Messenger in the junk yard behind the house. In 1921, that idea evolved into using the Messenger bricks and granite to make a Poe Memorial garden in the yard and using the locks, lumber, and hinges from the Messenger building to restore the Old Stone House. The House was then furnished with furniture from Richmond buildings in which Poe lived or worked. In the early years, the APVA charged the Poe Foundation rent for the property, but it eventually allowed the museum to use the house rent-free.
Ninety-one years after the Poe Museum opened, the Old Stone House is still visited by guests from around the world, and the exterior of the house remains virtually unchanged from its appearance recorded in nineteenth century photos. Thanks to Preservation Virginia, this beautiful remnant of Richmond’s Colonial past will finally become a true part of the Poe Museum. The museum has no plans for changes to the structure, which will be protected from significant alterations by an easement with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
To learn more about the Old Stone House, please visit the Poe Museum or read the forthcoming book about the house by Rosemarie Mitchell.
Here is the final schedule for the first Positively Poe Conference to be held next week, June 24-26 at the University of Virginia. Click here or write conference organizer Alexandra Urakova for more information.
Get all the latest Poe Museum news with the Spring 2013 issue of our newsletter Evermore. This issue features updates on new acquisitions, upcoming events, and the Poe Museum kittens. spring2013newsletter
Renowned comic artist Michael Golden, whose illustrations for a comic book adaptation of “The Tell-Tale Heart” are featured in the Poe Museum’s current exhibit “Still Beating: ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ Turns 170,” will be visiting the Poe Museum on Thursday, March 14 from 6-10 P.M. for a book signing and a lecture on his career and the art of sequential storytelling. This will be a great opportunity to meet one of the world’s leading comic artists.
Michael Golden is one of the world’s most popular comic artists, having provided artwork for G.I. Joe, The Adventures of Superman, Batman, The Micronauts, and many other groundbreaking series, including The ‘Nam. He is the co-creator of Rogue from the X-Men as well as Bucky O’Hare and Spartan X. He has served as an editor at DC Comics as well as Senior Art Director at Marvel Comics. In addition to continuing to create sequential stories, he also conducts classes in storytelling at venues around the world. The artwork in the Poe Museum’s exhibit, which is among his earliest published work, was printed in Marvel Classics #28 in 1977.
Michael Golden with Art
Think Poe was just a tortured soul who only wrote scary stories? Think again. Poe invented the detective story, helped develop the science fiction genre, and made many other positive contributions to science and culture. On June 24-26, 2013 in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Poe Museum and the UVA Small Special Collections Library will co-sponsor the first Positively Poe Conference devoted to an exploration of how Poe made the world a better place. Be a part of this first-ever Positively Poe Conference by registering today. Here is more information about this exciting event:
Poe’s reputation as a tortured, tragic figure, melancholic poet and the “master of the macabre” has fueled his popularity for over a century and a half, while debunking stereotypes and myths associated with that reputation has always been an essential part of Poe criticism. Going beyond the debunking of the popular caricature, we would like to discover the “positive” side of Poe’s life and work. Just as his life had its ups and downs, his writing, too, reflects a wide range of experience, not exclusively the dark and dismal. We therefore invite papers on a broad diversity of subjects with a focus on the life-affirming and vital elements in Poe’s work. Papers may cover (but are not limited by) such themes as:
Poe and ethics (his ideas of love, friendship, manners)
Poe and art (aesthetic ideas in literature and criticism)
Science, philosophy, Eureka
Social and family life
Literary circles, friends and followers
Success stories of Poe’s poems and tales at home and abroad.
If you are interested in attending, just complete this registration form PositivelyPoeConferenceRegistrationForm and mail it to the address on the form or register online here.
For more information, contact Alexandra Urakova at email@example.com.
The Poe Museum in Richmond’s annual Poe Birthday Bash has been getting bigger and better every year, attracting visitors from around the globe; but this year’s celebration promises to be bigger than ever because it will be celebrating the birthdays of both Edgar Allan Poe and his horror classic “The Tell-Tale Heart.”
On January 19, 2013 from noon to midnight, the Poe Museum will celebrate its biggest Poe Birthday Bash ever to honor both Poe’s 204th birthday and the 170th anniversary of the first printing of his greatest horror story, “The Tell-Tale Heart,” with a day of festivities featuring no fewer than six performances, five tours, four historical interpreters, two films, a Poe trivia showdown, and the opening of the first public exhibition of the Museum’s most recently acquired artifact, the coveted first printing of “The Tell-Tale Heart.” In addition to this prized artifact, the exhibit will also feature sixteen original illustrations for comic book adaptations of the story by acclaimed artists Richard Corben and Michael Golden.
What’s Happening at Poe’s Birthday Bash:
Among the activities going on at the Poe Birthday Bash will be a reading of “The Tell-Tale Heart” at twelve-thirty; a walking tour of neighborhood Poe sites at one; a living history performance by Poe’s fiancées Sarah Helen Whitman, Elmira Shelton, and Virginia Clemm Poe at three; birthday cake with Poe’s cousin Dr. Harry Lee Poe at four-thirty; a multilingual reading of “The Raven” at five, a performance of Poe’s works by English actor Tony Parkin at five-thirty; and a candlelight walking tour of neighborhood Poe sites by an actress portraying Poe’s fiancée Sarah Helen Whitman at eight. Guided tours of the museum will be available throughout the day, and live music will be performed after nine. The evening with conclude with an actress portraying Sarah Helen Whitman, who was a devoted Spiritualist, attempting to contact Poe’s spirit at eleven fifteen and a champagne toast to Poe at midnight.
12:00 pm: Guided tour. Gift shop sale: select items, up to 50% off! In store only, not valid for online purchases. Ongoing until 4:00 P.M.
12:30 pm: Performance of “the Tell-Tale Heart”
1:00 pm: Lecture on The 170th Anniversary of “the Tell-Tale Heart” by Chris Semtner, Curator of the Poe Museum
2:00 pm: Walking tour of Poe’s Richmond led by Chris Semtner. Guided tour
2:00 pm: Instrumental music inspired by Poe’s poem “The Valley of Unrest” composed and performed by Victor X. Haskins on the trumpet
3:00 pm: Showdown of Poe’s Brides
4:00 pm: Art sale at the bar. Ongoing until 11:00 pm, featuring works by the Clockwork Collective and Abigail Larson. Guided tour
4:30 pm: Cutting of Poe’s Birthday Cake
5:00 pm: Reading of “the Raven” and other poems
5:30 pm: Live from London via telecast, a performance of “the Tell-Tale Heart” and other Poe stories by actor Tony Parkin
6:00 pm: Guided Tour
6:30 pm: Film screening of a 2010 animated short of “the Tell-Tale Heart” directed by Michael Swertfager. Guided tour
7:00 pm: Film screening of a 1928 experimental silent version of “the Fall of the House of Usher” directed by James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber
7:30 pm: Poe Trivia (with Poe Museum merchandise prizes)
8:00 pm: Living History Walking tour of Poe’s Richmond led by Poe’s fiance, the poetess Sarah Helen Whitman.
9:00 pm: Live music by The Blue and the Grey
10:00 pm: Reading of “The Black Cat”
10:15 pm: Live music continues
11:15 pm: Living History Seance performed by Sarah Helen Whitman
12:00 am: Champagne toast
Click here for photos from last year’s Poe Birthday Bash.
From January 19 until March 31, 2013, the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia will feature a special exhibit celebrating the 170th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s horror masterpiece “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Opening on Poe’s birthday, January 19, the exhibit brings together the Poe Museum’s recently acquired first printing of the story and loans of sixteen original drawings for comic book adaptations of the story by acclaimed illustrators Richard Corben and Michael Golden.
Michael Golden is one of the world’s most popular comic artists, having provided artwork for G.I. Joe, The Adventures of Superman, Batman, The Micronauts, and several other series. The artwork in the exhibit, which is among his earliest published work, was printed in Marvel Classics #28 in 1977.
Richard Corben began his career in animation before turning to underground comics. In 1976 he adapted a Robert E. Howard story into what is considered the first graphic novel, Bloodstar. His illustrious career has included work in album covers and movie posters, collaboration on a graphic novel with rock musician and filmmaker Rob Zombie, and an award-winning short film Neverwhere. The artwork on display was printed in Edgar Allan Poe’s Haunt of Horror #2 in 2006. One of the pieces will be an unpublished alternative cover design.
Admission to the exhibit is included in the price of Poe Museum general admission. The January 19 opening will coincide with the Poe Museum’s annual Poe Birthday Bash running from noon to midnight and featuring readings, live music, and a lecture about the legacy of “The Tell-Tale Heart.”
The exhibit was made possible by loans of artwork from the collections of Richard Corben and James Vacca.
Here is the latest issue of the Poe Museum’s newsletter Evermore. This issue features information about the museum’s upcoming Poe Birthday Bash, its new exhibit on “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and the kittens found in the Enchanted Garden.
Dear Friend of the Poe Museum,
This morning two busloads of students arrived at the Poe Museum. In addition to touring the museum’s exhibits, the groups participated in a scavenger hunt, watched a performance of “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and took a walking tour of neighborhood Poe sites. These are just a few of the programming options we now offer teachers in order to address the ever changing needs of their students. When classes are unable to visit the museum, we bring activities to schools and libraries throughout the Mid-Atlantic region or hold video conferences with schools outside the region. As teachers’ needs evolve, the Poe Museum will continue to adapt and to find new ways to cultivate a lifelong love of reading in audiences of all ages. This is one reason the Poe Museum has continued to serve for the past ninety years, and this is how it will thrive for the next ninety.
With all the changes taking place in its exhibits and programming, now is a great time to be a part of the Poe Museum. Earlier this year, we hosted a major exhibit of dozens of Poe manuscripts and letters which boosted our summer admissions by 26%. In June, students from across the country travelled to Richmond for the Fifth Annual Edgar Allan Poe Young Writers’ Conference. In October, we placed a marker on the grave of Poe’s first and last fiancée Elmira Royster Shelton because the legend on her gravestone has completely worn away. Throughout the year, the museum’s renowned collection continued to grow with the major acquisitions of the first printing of “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the only surviving manuscript for Poe’s poem “To Helen,” and several important books about Poe’s life and work from the collection of influential early twentieth century Poe scholar James Southall Wilson. In the year ahead, we look forward to hosting another Young Writers’ Conference as well as the first Positively Poe Conference, at which leading Poe scholars will explore Poe’s life affirming contributions to the arts and culture. We are already booking group tours for the spring semester and preparing for next year’s exhibits.
As the Poe Museum prepares for another exciting year, we continue to face challenges ranging from recent severe weather that caused the cancellation of several tours and off-site programs to the expenses associated with maintaining both our artifacts and the two-hundred sixty-year-old building that houses them. The Poe Museum has lasted ninety years because generations of donors have supported it along the way, and the museum will continue to promote Poe’s legacy for another ninety years with the help of you and future generations of members and donors. We are mindful that the City of Baltimore has closed the Poe House. As a private museum, we do not take our supporters for granted. If you have not made your annual donation to the Poe Museum this year, now is a perfect time to do so. You can donate right now by clicking this link. Your gift of $20, $50, $100, $500, or more can help us keep the Poe Museum’s programs available and affordable for audiences of all ages.
Harry Lee Poe
Even after ninety years, the Poe Museum’s collection continues to grow. Here are a few of the recent acquisitions made possible by the Poe Museum’s friends.
First Printing of “The Tell-Tale Heart”
Almost everyone has read Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous short story of madness and murder, but this week the Poe Museum in Richmond finally acquired the coveted first printing of “The Tell-Tale Heart.” The story first appeared in the inaugural issue (January 1843) of the Boston magazine The Pioneer, edited by poet James Russell Lowell (1819-1891). Since only three issues were published before Lowell discontinued the magazine, copies are now relatively rare. Considered the most ambitious literary journal of Antebellum America, The Pioneer’s three issues contained contributions by Poe, Lowell, Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Greenleaf Whittier, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Poe Museum President Dr. Harry Lee Poe commented on the Poe Museum’s acquisition of the important first printing, “This is a prize for any collection especially because it is the story that is included in all the anthologies.” The piece will will go on display at the Poe Museum during the Museum’s day-long celebration of Poe’s birthday on January 19, 2013 from noon until midnight.
Though the story is a favorite with today’s readers, “The Tell-Tale Heart” was rejected the first time Poe tried to publish it– the publishers of the Boston Miscellany writing in their rejection letter, “If Mr. Poe would condescend to furnish more quiet articles, he would be a most desirable correspondent.” Lowell, however, liked the story and acquired it for the first issue of his own magazine, paying Poe ten dollars for the work. A number of magazines soon reprinted the story, but, owing to the lax copyright laws of the time, Poe did not receive any royalties for these unauthorized reprints. Two years later, the editor of Poe’s next collection of short stories did not select it for inclusion in what would be the last collection of Poe’s tales published during his lifetime.
The twentieth century’s leading Poe scholar Thomas Ollive Mabbott called Poe’s short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” “a supreme artistic achievement,” and the tale has long been a favorite among readers. A staple at readings of Poe’s works, the story has been adapted several times to film, including the 2009 movie “Tell-Tale” starring Josh Lucas and the upcoming “The Tell-Tale Heart” starring Rose McGowan. It even inspired an episode of the television program “The Simpsons” in which Lisa built a diorama based on the story.
Plaster from Poe’s Home in Baltimore
On October 25, the outgoing Curator of the Poe House and Museum of Baltimore, Jeff Jerome, presented the Poe Museum with a piece of horse hair from the Poe House. The plaster was removed from the interior east wall of the front room during a wall repair, and Jerome saved a few pieces of the plaster the repairmen discarded at that time. This piece, which measures about seven inches in width, may be a remnant of the house’s original (ca. 1830) plaster and would, therefore, date to the time of Poe’s residence in the building from early 1833 until August 1835. During Poe’s residence there, he wrote some of his major early tales including his first horror story “Berenice.” He lived in the house with his grandmother Elizabeth Poe, his cousin Henry Clemm, his aunt (and future mother-in-law) Maria Poe Clemm, and his cousin (and future wife) Virginia Clemm.
This piece will be a welcome addition to the Poe Museum’s collection of building materials from various buildings (most of which have been demolished) in which Poe lived or worked. Among the Poe-related building materials already in the Poe Museum’s collection are bricks from the office in which Poe worked for the Southern Literary Messenger, bricks from the headquarters of Poe’s foster father’s firm Ellis and Allan, granite from the home in which Poe was married, bricks from Poe’s home in New York City, a mantle from Poe’s bedroom in Richmond, locks and hinges from other Richmond buildings associated with Poe, lumber from the Southern Literary Messenger office, an urn from the garden in which Poe courted his first fiancée, and the staircase from Poe’s boyhood home. The Poe Museum’s collection of furnishings from Poe-related buildings includes the author’s bed, the chair on which he sat while editing the Southern Literary Messenger, and paintings from his home.
An Article about Poe
Another fine addition to the Poe Museum’s collection was the recent gift of Michael Blankenship of Roanoke, Virginia. The gift, the April 1891 issue of Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly contains the article “Some Memorials of Edgar Allan Poe” by Clara Dargan Maclean, who reports on her visits to the surviving residences of Poe and her interviews with people who knew him. The article contains some fine engravings as well as some interesting details about Poe’s death. Maclean was a proponent of the theory that Poe’s death resulted from cooping, the practice of abducting and drugging of men to force them to vote multiple times. The actual cause of Poe’s disappearance and death remains a mystery.
Appropriately enough, Blankenship donated the piece to the Poe Museum on Halloween. This magazine will be added to the Poe Museum’s reference library, which boasts already thousands of books and periodicals about Edgar Allan Poe’s life and works.
Below are some of the beautiful engravings from the article.