It’s that time of year again. You and your kids are looking for fun Halloween activities, and you can’t do much better than Poe’s Pumpkin Patch, an afternoon of Poe-themed fun and games for children eleven and under. The event will take place in the Poe Museum’s garden on Sunday, October 28 from 2-5 P.M. Be sure to dress up for the costume contest and practice your technique for the mummy wrapping contest. Don’t forget to pick up a pumpkin (while supplies last). Make sure your kids grow up weird by taking them to Poe’s Pumpkin Patch!
Event is included in price of Poe Museum general admission. For more information, call the Poe Museum at 804-648-5523.
As we approach the anniversary of Poe’s death (October 7) we are no closer to determining the precise cause of his mysterious demise. Fortunately, junior high students from around the country have stepped forward to provide their theories about Poe’s death. Below are some of the recent submissions. Click here if you would like to study the clues and offer your own theory. To see some of the earlier submissions, click here.
My theory is that Edgar Allen Poe died of bieng drugged. See, he was sick before he went to that little restaurant called ‘Saddler’s’ and I suppose it was just a little fever. I think someone must have recognized him at the restuarant and drugged his meal. Surely, they must have been a tad bit jealous and just drugged him.
my theory is that when mr,poe was danosed with the tumor is whas all ready killing him, it was then when he contracted cholera that he body started working overtime to fight both the tumor and the sickness. cholera . the infection in his intestant caused him to vomit and have watery diarrhea which both led to dihidration followed by hullucinations. that he had. , fighting both tumor sickness and the infectio was causing a major probem to his body and not to menntion he proble drinking., he was basically commiting suicide withiut knowing t. hence why o body know why he died.
My theory starts out with him not having a regular heart bet. When someone has an irregular heart thing would be different for them in their body with out even knowing about it. In some cases with the heart when it is like this alchol will make it worse. So as he drank his heart got worse. If your heart is messed up and you don’t know about it then it can do damage to other parts of your body because that is where blood gets pumped through to get to the rest or the body. When blood dose not get to where it needs to be it can cause a toumer. In most cases a tuoumer will form in the brian. So it is possible for Edgar Allen Poe to have a brain toumer.
As far as the brain when it gets defected in some way it will try to heal its self. In the prossecs of that it may happen but it may just make it worse then it already is and the brain will slowly start to die and the person thinking nothing has changed will go one with their daily life. The problem with this is that everything will be the same to them like they have been doing it forever but in reality everything the person is doing is starnge. Some examples of this is a person could get rapped heart bets along with cold sweet and be very on edge. Another thing that could happen is that the person will start to forget the simplest things and not notice them when they normaly would. Something eles that could happen is the brain will start to play trick on the person like seeing and hearing things; basically hillunotions.
As the brain does this the body its self will stop working and the person could be easily talked into doing anything such as drinking. It would be very easy to talk some one like this into drinking if they already drink. Once the person is drunk they can get them to do any thing. In this case it was election day and people were heired to kidnapp people and take them to different places and make them vote for the same person over and over again so that person would have a better change of winning. When they tokk this person to all the voting places they could go to they would just leave that person some where till someone eles found them.
In which how Edgar Allen Poe’s heart was messed up already it was to much for his body to handle and he had to get sent to the hospital. While he was in there he’s brain kept him alive as long as it could till it fainly quit worked and the person died. This is my theroy.
Ithink he died from his very sick diesase and had a brain tumor.
I think he died beacause of his brain tunmor.I think his brain had got off track and his heart started beating to fast.
He died from drinking at a bar room, he was drunk
I think he died from overdose of his medication because he was depressed that his wife died. So he wanted to blank it out and forget bout her death.
I think Poe died from old age and too much stress.
I think he died of depression from his family and wife dieing and to much stress
I think he died from his addiction because it said he could not consume achohol without producing insanity
my theory was that through his years of tourture and neglect before he was famous affected him mentaly to the point that he would write scary stories that expressed his inner torment so that the world would know exactly what he was feeling inside. when he died he was probably feeling so much inside that he died due to a mental shutdown of his important vessels and nerves in his brain.althogh this has not been proven this is my theory and i stand by it 100%.
Killeen , Texas
He was beaten & then used to place votes.
Poe was murdered by a literary rival.
He might’ve died of head trauma.
He had cholera, and died.
Poe must’ve had brain cancer. Since it wasn’t treated quickly, or they didn’t have equipment to abolish cancer, the tumor grew, and eventually, he died.
San Fransisco, California
Edgar Allan Poe may of been murdered by one of his family members.
i think poe was deppressed about losing his wife to the samething he lost his mother and brother to. i think losing his wife brought up some unwanted memories so his body started shuting down and slowly stopped working till he died
He died of a brain tumor
i think that poe had manic depression along with an irreguler heart beat and possibly alergic to some of the chemicals in alchol (since it does contain many toxins i am not shure witch one) and he died during a fit of depression after drinking he just simply gave up
or the depresent that is alchol threw off his hesrt so much in that one instant that his heartbeat was even more irreguler.
That Poe died from all the medicine the docters were giving him. That he probably started out with a really bad cold or flu and then when he went to the docter they said it was something else, and they gave him medicine and the medicine just kept making it worse! So eventually after all the medicine and procedures he died.
Poe’s immune system was faulty from the extreme amounts of liquor he consumed daily. With the over-bearing thoughts of depression,he was pushed into mania, causing his hallucinations in his death bed. I would assume Poe was not a careful person nor fearful of strangers. Drinking before leaving Richmond with strangers at the height and end of his career, he was sure death was calling. “Rynolds” a fan, loved the idea of having Poe over to his home. Poe had the strange idea of wanting to be unknown and traded clothes with the stranger before taking off into the night. Poe in a drunken stupor fell and knocked himself unconscious. his body weary, his liver spotted, and his mind injured, he\’s taken to the hospital with death ringing his ear.
I think that since Virgina Clemm dies at only 24 years old, he probably abused her to the point of death. A close family member or friend of Virgina who knows about the abuse could have hired someone that was with Poe on his trip to poison him.
Melrose , Illnoise
They are many clues that he may died of depression. From having his true love die and being a lonely orphan.
Port Charlotte, Florida
Edgar Allan Poe’s death is caused by alcohol and beating. After his wife’s death in 1847, Poe became depressed and drank large amounts of alcohol. This led him to insanity. When seeing him drunk men began to beat him. The beatings and the alcohol only made is pre-existing condition even worse. Thus leading to his death.
Port Charlotte, Florida
He was Murdered.
I belive that he had a blood clot in the vessel going in to his heart wtich made his heart beat slower witch made it harder for the blood to get to other parts of his body . so he might have ben doing an exersize or running that his body wasnt use to so his heart beat faster and its not use to that so it stoped
When he drank he probably had a panic attack because he did live in a small house so he probably developed claustrophobia wich may have caued a heart-attack which triggered his brain tumer to hurt even more, so he drank even more thinking that he would feel better but made it worse. He also may have seen some things that scared him which caused him to die.
Edgar Allan Poe boarded a ship during his strange disappearance. In a drunken stupor, he swam in and out of conciousness not knowing the difference between fantasy and reality. His nightmares became so realistic that he began to live them. After being found in the bar and being taken to the hospital, Edgar’s visions drove him mad, but not to the point of death. While on his journey, Poe made a pact with the devil that in exchange for his soul, he would be given the ability to write better than anyone in history. After falling into a deep sleep, Lucifer took Poe’s soul for his own keeping, and the doctors did not accurately assess his death and he was buried alive.
I think that someone was after his poems. Only because he made them with all his heart. And they all generate from what he knew. Poe most likely got beat to death. Also he could’ve have been making one about that person.
Last Sunday, the members of the Poe Museum were invited to a special Poe-themed tour of Richmond’s Shockoe Hill Cemetery led by Jeffry Burden, President of the Friends of Shockoe Hill Cemetery. In the above photo, some of the guests are visiting the grave of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall. In the below photo, Jeffry Burden shows members Union spy Elizabeth Van Lew’s monument. (Notice the guest sporting a new Poe Museum tote bag.)
In addition to the graves of Poe’s first love Jane Stanard and his foster father John Allan, Burden showed the group the lesser known graves of other Poe acquaintances. Below is a photo of the grave of John Carter, the doctor Poe visited his last night in Richmond. Poe left his walking stick at Carter’s house on East Broad Street, and it was from Carter’s heirs that the Poe Museum acquired the walking stick. According to a later account by Carter, published in November 1902 in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, “On this evening [Poe] sat for some time talking, while playing with a handsome Malacca sword-cane recently presented to me by a friend, and then, abruptly rising, said, ‘I think I will step over to Saddler’s (a popular restaurant in the neighborhood) for a few moments,’ and so left without any further word, having my cane still in his hand. From this manner of departure I inferred that he expected to return shortly, but did not see him again, and was surprised to learn next day that he had left for Baltimore by the early morning boat. I then called on Saddler, who informed me that Poe had left his house at exactly twelve that night, starting for the Baltimore boat in company with several companions whom he had met at Saddler’s, and giving as a reason therefore the lateness of the hour and the fact that the boat was to leave at four o’clock. According to Saddler he was in good spirits and sober, though it is certain that he had been drinking and that he seemed oblivious of his baggage, which had been left in his room at the Swan Tavern. These effects were after his death forwarded by one of Mrs. Mackenzie’s sons to Mrs. Clemm in New York, and through the same source I received my cane, which Poe in his absent-mindedness had taken away with him.”
The next images shows the recently damaged monument of Rev. John McCabe, a poet who contributed his work to the Southern Literary Messenger while the journal was under Poe’s editorship. In his “Chapter on Autography,” Poe wrote, “Dr. JOHN C. MCCABE, of Richmond, Virginia, has written much and generally well, in prose and poetry, for the periodicals of the day — for the ‘Southern Literary Messenger’ in especial, and other journals.” In a March 3, 1836 letter to McCabe, Poe (who has just rejected one of McCabe’s poems for publication in the Messenger) writes, “I feel exceedingly desirous that you should be even more favorably known to the public than you are at present, and that this object should be accomplished thro’ the medium of the Messenger.”
The next picture shows the unmarked grave of Eliza White, daughter of Poe’s boss and owner of the Southern Literary Messenger Thomas White. Before his marriage to Virginia Clemm, Poe is said to have been a favorite dancing partner of Miss White’s. When Poe married Virginia, Eliza White was one of the few guests invited to the small ceremony. Over a decade later, she visited Poe and his wife at their cottage in Fordham, New York.
If you did not have a chance to join us for last weekend’s tour but still would like to visit historic Shockoe Hill Cemetery, you should come to the dedication on October 7 at 1 P.M. of a plaque honoring Poe’s first and last fiancee Elmira Royster Shelton.
A guest at the modest cottage in which Poe lived during his final three years provided this description of meeting the poet in his home: “I well remember the pretty little house, a tiny white cottage, set up above the road, surrounded by tall shrubs, trees, and emerald grass. It was a modest abode, but tasteful, and so scrupulously clean and well ordered that at once on entering it one felt that it was no ordinary home…The door leading into the small “entry” to the house was generally open. Beside the narrow staircase leading to the upper rooms stood a large tube-rose plant, which sent its fragrance all over the house. A door to the right on entering opened into the sitting room, and it was here that Poe received his guests, three or four literary people, on the day I first saw him.”
(Elma Mary Gove Letchworth, “A Young Girl’s Recollections of Edgar Allan Poe” undated manuscript)
Poe lived in the cottage with his wife Virginia Clemm Poe, his mother-in-law Maria Clemm, his cat, and some pet birds. After Poe’s death on October 7, 1849, Maria Clemm moved from the cottage to live with friends who could care for her in her final years. (She would actually live another twenty-two years.)
I recently visited The Bronx and the small cottage Poe rented there (now maintained by the Bronx County Historical Scoiety). Although the house is now in an urban environment, it is still possible to imagine how it must have appeared in Poe’s day when it was surrounded by rolling hills and cherry trees. Once inside the house, a guest can see furniture of the kind that Poe and his small family would have used. In fact, they still have Virginia Poe’s bed and Edgar Poe’s rocking chair. After reading the accounts of Poe’s final days in that cottage, walking those halls and seeing the artifacts about which I’d read really brought history to life. The pictures below show some of what the cottage has to offer.
Above is a photo of Poe’s rocking chair.
Here is the bed in which Poe’s wife died. There are descriptions of her lying here, covered with her husband’s West Point great coat with her cat sleeping on her check to keep her warm.
The mirror in Virginia Poe’s bedroom is a replica of her mirror, which is now on display at the Poe Museum in Richmond. The elbow in the reflection belongs to my guide, museum educator Angel Hernandez.
A source recounts that “beside the narrow staircase leading to the upper rooms stood a large tube-rose plant, which sent its fragrance all over the house.” (Letchworth)
A description of this room by one of Poe’s guests: “The sitting-room floor was laid with check matting; four chairs, a light stand, and a hanging bookshelf completed its furniture. There were pretty presentation copies of books on the little shelves, and the Brownings had posts of honour on the stand. With quiet exultation Poe drew from his side pocket a letter that he had recently received from Elizabeth Barrett Browning. He read it to us. It was very flattering. She told Poe that his ‘poem of the Raven had awakened a fit of horror in England.’ This was what he loved to do. To make the flesh creep, to make one shudder and freeze with horror, was more to his relish (I cannot say more to his mind or heart) than to touch the tenderest chords of sympathy or sadness…”
(Mrs. Mary Gove Nichols, “Reminiscences of Edgar Poe,” Sixpenny Magazine, February 1, 1863)
Poe’s bedroom is now the orientation room in which visitors can watch a video about Poe’s time in the cottage. This description provides a young girl’s perspective on seeing the poet’s bedroom: “On one of our visits to Fordham I was allowed to accept Mrs Clemm’s invitation to spend the night. I felt very proud as my hostess took me over the little house and showed me the exquisitely neat bed-rooms. There was ‘Eddy’s room,’ and I wondered at the snowy pillows piled high for the poet’s head. ‘Eddy cannot sleep if his head lies low,’ said Mrs Clemm, and I thought how uncomfortable high his head must be, like sitting up in bed.
(Elma Mary Gove Letchworth, “A Young Girl’s Recollections of Edgar Allan Poe” undated manuscript)
This is the kitchen in which Poe’s mother-in-law Maria Clemm prepared the family’s meals. Mary Gove Nichols recounted of this room, “The floor of the kitchen was white as wheaten flour. A table, a chair, and a little stove that it contained, seemed to furnish it perfectly.” Click here to see the soup ladle Mrs. Clemm used at the cottage.
This bronze bust of Poe by Edmund T. Quinn was unveiled on January 19, 1909, the centennial of Poe’s birth. Though it was once displayed outdoors, the bust is now exhibited inside the cottage. In 1930, the Bronx Society of Arts and Sciences gave a plaster copy of this bust to the Poe Museum in Richmond. (You can even purchase a copy from our gift shop.)
Although Poe experienced the tragic death of his wife while living in this cottage, he also composed some of his greatest works, including “The Bells,” “Annabel Lee,” and “Eureka.” Over 163 years after Poe left the cottage, it still evokes the feeling expressed by one of Poe’s guest Mrs. Nichols: “The cottage had an air of taste and gentility that must have been lent to it by the presence of its inmates. So neat, so poor, so unfurnished, and yet so charming a dwelling I never saw.”
Learn more about the Poe cottage by visiting this website.
To see some of the pieces the family owned while living there, you can also visit the Poe Museum in Richmond, where you can see Virginia Poe’s mirror, Virginia’s trinket box, the family’s soup ladle, Maria Clemm’s clothing, and Edgar Poe’s clothing, boot hooks, trunk, and walking stick.
As a way of thanking our members for all their support, we will be hosting a special members-only Poe-themed guided tour of Richmond’s historic Shockoe Hill Cemetery on Sunday, September 9 at 2 P.M. Our guide, Jeffry Burden of the Friends of Shockoe Hill Cemetery, will show participants the graves of those Poe knew best, including his first love, his first and last fiancée, his foster parents, and his childhood friends. Shockoe Hill Cemetery is the final resting place of several prominent historical figures in this very historical city, so you will also learn more about US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, Revolutionary War Hero Peter Francisco, and more. The tour meets at the caretaker’s cabin at 1:45 P.M.
If you would like to join the tour, reserve your spot today by writing email@example.com or by calling 888-21-EAPOE. If you are not already a member, sign up today and get a free tote bag. You can’t beat $25* for a tour and tote bag. (*$15 for students and teachers, $35 for a couple, $50 for a family)
Ancient Egypt has long been of great fascination to the world, capturing the imaginations of everyone from the Greeks who conquered Egypt in 332 BC, all the way to people of our own time. Much of the ancient civilization’s culture is preserved in the monumental temples and pyramids, the cryptic hieroglyphics, and of course in the elaborate burials and mummifications that became the hallmark of Egypt. While the interest in Ancient Egypt continues on, it was perhaps at its most fervent in the Victorian era. Discoveries such as the Rosetta Stone by the French in 1799 made it possible for scholars to finally translate the hieroglyphics that had stumped them for centuries, and created an intense interest in this formerly mysterious culture.
It was with Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt and the discovery of the Rosetta Stone that the discipline of Egyptology was born. The publication of the essay Description de l’Égypte (1809-1829) officially made the study an academic discipline. Soon, historians, archaeologists, and anthropologists alike flocked to Egypt to excavate the tombs and study what was inscribed on the walls of its temples and other landmarks. Many of these excavations yielded crypts of pharaohs richly adorned with gold, jewels, and mummies, many of which were taken back to Europe to be put on display in museums. The people of the Victorian age came in droves to see these mummies, which both delighted and terrified them. There were even mummy unwrapping parties, which guests could attend and watch as the linen wrappings were peeled back to reveal the embalmed body inside. When Poe was fourteen, there was even a mummy on public display in the Senate Chamber of the Capitol in Richmond.
An Invitation to a Mummy Unwrapping Party
Poe wrote a satirical critique of this fascination with mummies entitled “Some Words With a Mummy” (published in 1845). The story is a commentary on the treatment of the artifacts of Ancient Egypt, particularly the mummies. Once back in Europe, many mummies were damaged or destroyed in the name of science by dissections and examinations, and others were stolen from their tombs by grave robbers to be ground into a powder which was thought to have medicinal properties. Poe’s mummy, Allamistakeo, admonishes his examiners on their treatment of him, showing the author’s view on the Egypt Mania and the disrespect of the tombs that had overtaken the Victorian era.
At the same time as the publication of “Some Words With a Mummy”, the Egyptian Building was being constructed to house the Medical College of Virginia here in Richmond. Designed by architect Thomas W. Stewart, the building is in the Egyptian Revival style and brings to mind the colossal temples that dot the Nile Valley. The choice to make the building very Egyptian in appearance may coincide with the Egypt Mania of the time, or perhaps ally the medical campus with Imhotep, the Egyptian priest who is thought to have been the first physician. The building became a national landmark in 1969, and is a treasured part of the MCV campus today. It has been in continual use since 1845, and houses an auditorium and classrooms.
The MCV Egyptian Building
Three years after the Edgar Allan Poe Museum opened its doors in 1922, tragedy befell the city of Richmond in the Church Hill area when the train tunnel beneath what is now Jefferson Park collapsed, killing four people and burying a train engine beneath the hill. Although the bodies of one worker and the conductor were recovered, the locomotive and the remains of two workers are still trapped under the earth.
Completed in 1875 to connect the C&O Railroad to the Shockoe area, the Church Hill train tunnel had a history of structural problems. Because the soil contained a high clay content, the ground which the tunnel was built through retained a large amount of groundwater after rain, making the tunnel structurally unsound. During its initial construction, ten workers were reportedly killed due to collapses. Because of this instability, the tunnel fell into disuse after the construction of the river viaduct, and would be unused for twenty years.
In 1925, efforts were made to restore the tunnel to a useable condition to increase railroad capacity in the city. It was during these repairs that the western end of the tunnel would collapse on October 2nd, trapping six people, Train Engine #231, and ten flat cars beneath the hill. Two workers managed to crawl out to the eastern end beneath the flat cars; by the time rescue teams managed to dig to the engine, they discovered the bodies of the conductor and one other worker. Due to the tunnel’s instability, however, the bodies of the two remaining workers were never recovered. The Virginia State Corporation Commission ordered the tunnel sealed to prevent others from being trapped in subsequent cave-ins. The train locomotive and the cars are still there today.
Even after the tunnel was sealed, it continued to be a problem for the Church Hill area, collapsing in various other locations and creating sinkholes. In 2006, the Virginia Historical Society drilled a hole through the tunnel seal and used a camera to look inside and see if there was any way to recover the lost train engine. The tunnel was discovered to be full of water and silt, and any attempts to open the tunnel would inevitably result in further sinkholes developing in Church Hill.
The sealed western end of the tunnel lies mere blocks away from the Poe Museum at 18th and Marshall Streets, and can be visited by the public.
One fine day in April, 1945, a group of industrious young members of the John Marshall Chapter of the International Quill and Scroll Society gathered in the Enchanted Garden of the Edgar Allan Poe Museum for tea and an initiation of several new members.
Quill and Scroll Society Members visiting the Poe Museum, April 26,1945
Old photographs such as this provide a curious window into the past, an invaluable record of how it was. Many of the people in these pictures have long since passed away – yet the memory of these moments in time lives on through the muted sepia tones of a photographic image. As Collections Coordinator of the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, I have the opportunity to ensure that these records remain intact for future generations to enjoy, through both diligent record-keeping and proper handling and storage.
Because 2012 marks the 90th anniversary of the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, I am taking this opportunity to share with you some images from the museum’s yesteryear. The Poe Museum has a long standing history of welcoming school groups for tours, as evinced through several of the photographs I have stumbled upon recently.
Several happy young people dip their toes into the pond of the Enchanted Garden of the Poe Museum. This pond was in the place of the current fountain. Photograph dated April 17, 1942.
A school group gathers in front of the Poe Shrine. Photograph circa 1945.
The Poe Museum is proud to have inspired generations of young literature enthusiasts and will continue to offer poetry and insight for many years to come.
One of Edgar Allan Poe’s favorite places for a stroll in Richmond was Shockoe Hill Cemtery. Located at 4th and Hospital Streets, the cemetery was a retreat from the noise and activity of the city. The cemetery was established in 1820 as Richmond, Virginia’s first city-owned cemetery, and the first burial took place there in 1822. Seven years later, Poe’s beloved foster mother was buried there. She would be only one of many important figures from his life to be interred there.
During a recent visit to the cemetery, I took some photos of a few of the graves of people Poe would have known.
These are the graves of Poe’s foster parents, the Allans. From left to right, the monuments are for Louisa Allan (Poe’s foster father’s second wife), John Allan (Poe’s foster father), Frances Valentine Allan (John Allan’s first wife and Poe’s foster mother), William Galt (John Allan’s uncle who left Allan a fortune), and Rosanna Galt. Although Allan inherited a fortune, he left Edgar Poe out of his will.
This is the grave of John Allan’s oldest son, John Allan, Jr., who died during the Civil War.
Here is the grave of Allan’s second son, William Galt Allan, who also served in the Civil War.
This is the grave of Allan’s third son, Patterson Allan. Like his brothers, Patterson died young. John Allan’s second wife outlived all three of her children.
Above is a photo of the grave of Anne Moore Valentine, Poe’s “Aunt Nancy.” Valentine was the unmarried sister of Poe’s foster mother Frances Valentine Allan, and she lived with the Allans even after Frances Allan’s death in 1829.
This is the grave of Poe’s first and last fiancee, Elmira Royster Shelton. The inscription on this monument is only barely legible, but you can still read the name of Elmira’s husband Alexander Barrett Shelton.
Poe’s boyhood friend Robert Craig Stanard is buried here with his wife.
Here is the grave of Poe’s first great love, Jane Stith Craig Stanard, the woman to whom he dedicated his poem “To Helen.” She died from “exhaustion from the mania” when Poe was fifteen, and he and her son are said to have paid frequent visits to her grave in the months after her death.
This plaque was placed at the base of Jane Stanard’s grave in 1923 by Poe Museum founder James H. Whitty and Poe Museum benefactor John W. Robertson. They dedicated the plaque on the first anniversary of the opening of the Poe Museum and considered the event so important that they invited the President of the United States, Warren G. Harding. He declined the invitation with the below letter.
Shockoe Hill Cemetery is also the final resting place to a number of historical figures including the United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, Revolutionary War hero Peter Francisco, and Union spy Elizabeth Van Lew.
If you will be visiting Virginia to see the Poe Museum and would like to learn about some other Poe-related sites in the area, here is a link to more information.
The Richmond Poe Museum’s staff took a field trip to Baltimore Maryland on March 26th to check out the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum.
Richmond Poe Museum staff on the recently rebuilt steps of the Edgar Allan Poe House in Baltimore
Edgar Allan Poe lived in this small row house from 1832 to 1835. The household also included Poe’s aunt Maria Clemm, as well as Maria’s two children Virginia and Henry, and Poe’s paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Cairnes Poe. Poe would later marry his cousin Virginia. The family was just about able to afford the rent for this house thanks to Grandmother Poe’s pension, which was granted to her because of her late husband’s service to the country during the American Revolution.
David Poe, Sr. (Edgar’s paternal grandfather – b. 1743 d. 1816) strongly sympathized with the American Revolutionary cause and donated a lot of the Poe family fortune to support the Continental Army. He served as Quartermaster General for the city of Baltimore and although his official rank was that of major, he was affectionately known in the city of Baltimore as “General Poe.”
So, Edgar’s connection to the city of Baltimore was very strong. It makes sense that Poe would choose to live with family after his disagreements with his foster father, John Allan and dishonorable discharge from West Point. Life in Baltimore was not easy, the Poe family had little money. They lost Poe’s elder brother, William Henry Leonard Poe, in 1831 before they came to the little house at 203 Amity Street. Grandmother Poe was ailing and bedridden during their time in the house. When Grandmother Poe died in about September 1835, the pension died with her, meaning the family could no longer afford to keep the house. Around the same time, Poe began work at the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond and soon thereafter married his beloved cousin, Virginia.
The lovely Amber, Jessy and Jen with Baltimore Poe House Curator Jeff Jerome and some bottles of cognac left by the fabled “Poe Toaster”
During our visit Jeff Jerome,the curator of the Baltimore Poe House, treated the Poe Museum staff to a wonderful tour of Poe’s Baltimore home as well as Westminster Hall and Westminster Burying Ground where Poe and his family are laid to rest. We were treated to a fabulous surprise performance of “The Tell-Tale Heart” by renowned Baltimore actor and Poe impersonator, Tony Tsendeas and got to see some of the bottles of cognac left by the mysterious Poe Toaster over the years. Many of these bottles are now part of the Baltimore Poe House collection, which also includes a telescope and lap desk used by Poe and an assortment of crystal and china from the Allan home among other things. We checked out the tiny garret bedroom at the top of the house used by Poe (presumably the site where he wrote some of his early tales like “Berenice”).
After our visit to the Poe House, Jeff then took us to Westminster Hall as well as the Westminster Burying Ground and Catacombs.
The Westminster Burying Grounds were established around 1792 and Westminster Presbyterian Church (now de-consecrated and known as Westminster Hall) was built on top of the burying grounds in 1852. The Catacombs were created to allow people access to the resting places of loved ones whose tombs wound up underneath the church. The burying grounds are the final resting place for many famous Baltimoreans including General James McHenry (for whom Fort McHenry was named) and, of course, our beloved Poe and many of his family members.
Spooky Catacombs beneath Westminster Hall
A couple more photos from Westminster Hall and Burying Ground
We paid our respects at BOTH of Poe’s graves on the property. Poe was originally buried in the Poe family burial plot but was moved to his current resting place in 1875. Virginia and Maria are now buried in the same place.
Here we are at the gravesite:
As always, the photos in this blog post (and more) can be found via the Poe Museum’s flickr group here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/poemuseum/pool/.
We at the Poe Museum would like to thank Mr. Jerome for allowing us to come visit and for giving us such a wonderful tour of Poe’s Baltimore. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and we encourage others to pay the Baltimore Poe House and Museum a visit too!
The Poe House in Baltimore is fighting to stay alive after recent cuts in city funding – please help to keep it around for others to enjoy for many years to come! Check this page for more information on how you can help: http://www.eapoe.org/threat.htm. You can also follow the Poe House’s status on their Facebook page which you can visit here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Edgar-Allan-Poe-House-Museum/10150113128020459.