Other Poe Sites
Edgar Allan Poe Statue—Virginia State Capitol Grounds
This statue of Poe was placed in the Capitol grounds near one of his boyhood homes and to the house in which he was married (both now demolished). The sculptor Charles Rudy produced the bronze statue for Dr. Barksdale of Pennsylvania who donated it to the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1956. It took two years for the General Assembly to decide where—or if—the sculpture should be displayed. While the other statues on Capitol Square were placed near the Capitol at the top of the hill, the Poe sculpture sits alone at the bottom of the hill near the corner of Ninth and East Franklin Streets.
Designed by Thomas Jefferson and completed in 1790, the Virginia Capitol was the first neoclassical public building in the United States and became a model for other public structures throughout the country. Poe spent most of his time in Richmond living within a few blocks of this building. Two of Poe’s boyhood homes stood a block south of Capitol Square, and a boarding house in which lived as an adult stood directly across Bank Street.
The Capitol Square served as a backdrop for some of the most important events of his life. As a boy, Poe represented his academy in a foot race around the Capitol. At the age of fourteen, Poe visited the Capitol to see a mummy, which was then on exhibit in the old senate chamber. The same year, Poe became infatuated with Jane Stanard, who lived in a mansion directly across Ninth Street from the square. When he was fifteen, Poe reconstructed and guarded George Washington’s battle tent next to the building in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette’s 1824 visit to the city.
Elmira Shelton House
Built in 1844, this was the home of the woman to whom Poe was engaged both when he was seventeen and when he was forty. Their first engagement was broken off by her father while Poe was attending the University of Virginia. Mr. Royster intercepted and destroyed Poe’s letters to her and convinced Elmira that Poe had forgotten about her. Elmira soon engaged herself to Alexander Barrett Shelton. After Shelton’s early death, Elmira rented this house on Church Hill across Grace Street from Saint John’s Church. Her brothers also lived nearby on Grace Street. When Poe returned to Richmond in 1848 and 1849, he began to visit Shelton regularly, much to disapproval of both her brothers and her children. Her son Southall and daughter Ann mocked Poe behind his back and begged their mother not to marry him. By the end of September Elmira had agreed to marry Poe, and they set the wedding date for October 17, after his return from a business trip to Philadelphia. Poe never reached Philadelphia but died in Baltimore ten days before the ceremony would have taken place. A rumor eventually suggested that Mrs. Shelton’s brothers had beaten Poe and that his injuries had caused his early death. Although this story appeared in the United States Magazine in 1857, the theory was never widely accepted, and the cause of Poe’s death remains a mystery.
The building was originally a rental property owned by the Van Lew family whose mansion stood one block to the west. The Van Lews’ daughter Elizabeth was a Union spy during the Civil War. The Shelton House was once the headquarters of the Historic Richmond Foundation but has since been transferred to private ownership. In 2004 the 500-pound iron gate was stolen from the front yard. Within days the story of the missing gate had been reported in the local media, and the gate was returned in the middle of the night. The home is a private residence and is not open to the public.
Linden Row Inn
When Poe was a child, this block was a garden belonging to Charles Ellis, the business partner of Poe’s foster father, John Allan. It was once known for its linden trees, hence the name Linden Row. When Poe was eleven, he lived for a year with the Allans in Mr. Ellis’s house across Franklin Street from the garden, where the public library now stands. Poe played in this garden as a child and developed a love of landscape gardens. He even wrote a story called “The Landscape Garden.” As a teen, Poe and his first fiancée Elmira Royster secretly met in this garden to avoid her disapproving father. Since a row of houses was built on the lot during the 1840s and 50s, only a small part of the Ellis garden remains. The row houses have since been converted into the Linden Row Inn, so guests can stay in rooms overlooking the garden Poe once frequented.
St. John’s Church
Built in 1744, this is the oldest church still standing in Richmond. During the Virginia Convention of 1775, Patrick Henry gave his “ Liberty or Death” speech here. Among the members of the congregation was Poe’s twice-fiancée Elmira Royster Shelton. On a Sunday morning in 1848 or 1849, Poe visited Shelton at home after having not seen her in over a decade, and she told he would have to come back later because she was on her way to church and would not miss it for anything.
The yard around the church contains some graves of interest to Poe. The most important is that of Poe’s mother, the traveling actress Elizabeth Arnold Poe. It is located along the east wall of the churchyard. By the time Mrs. Poe died in 1811, her husband had abandoned her, and she was dependant upon the society ladies who brought meals to their favorite actress. Since acting was still considered a dishonorable profession, such ladies did not associate with actresses, but Mrs. Poe was especially popular. It was an honor that such a woman as Mrs. Poe was allowed to be buried in a church yard, and there is said to have been some protest mounted by some of the parishioners at the time. Her placement in an unmarked grave as close as possible to outside wall of the yard could be evidence of this.
The marker you will find there today was placed in 1927 by the Raven Society and the Poe Foundation on the spot Poe Museum founder James H. Whitty had located by searching through the church’s burial records.
Another grave of interest is that of Thomas Willis White, Poe’s boss at the Southern Literary Messenger. This monument is located to the right of the brick path in front of the Parish Hall.
The St. John's Church Foundation and the Poe Museum host a Poe event, Fancy Me Mad Graveyard Tour, every October.
On this site once stood the Richmond Theatre, where Poe’s mother performed to enthusiastic audiences until a few months before her death in December 1809. Two weeks and two days after her death, the theatre burned during a performance on the night after Christmas. Among the seventy-two victims of the fire were the Governor of Virginia and a former United States Senator. Newspapers as far away as Boston reported that the fire had been God’s punishment on the immoral world of the theatre. The city was plunged into a period of mourning, and theatrical performances were banned for eight months.
John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, was head of the committee charged with finding a suitable memorial for the victims of the fire. Monumental Church was the result. It was completed in 1814 with the help of donations made by those who would become members of the congregation. Poe’s foster father John Allan donated $230, and the Allans owned Pew #80. It was here that Poe sat with his foster mother Frances Allan for Sunday services. The pew is still marked with a brass plaque placed in memory of Mrs. Allan. One can imagine the many Biblical references in Poe’s works had their roots in Poe’s upbringing in this church.
Designed by Robert Mills (who also designed the Washington Monument in Washington D.C.) this church was designed to resemble an ancient tomb and is covered with symbols of mourning and death. Monumental not only resembles a tomb but also serves as the final resting place for the remains of the fire victims. They rest in a crypt beneath the sanctuary.
The church no longer has an active congregation and is owned and maintained by the Historic Richmond Foundation. It is not open to the public on a regular basis at this time, but the Historic Richmond Foundation sometimes hosts readings of Poe’s works by Poe impersonators here.
Richmond Randolph Lodge #19
Counting George Washington and John Marshall among its members, this is the oldest continuously used Masonic lodge in the country. The structure was constructed between 1785 and 1787. The tiny port city of Richmond became the capital of Virginia in 1780, and, completed about seven years later, the Richmond Randolph Lodge was one of the largest buildings in town for the next few decades. The space was large enough that it could serve as a hospital during the War of 1812, and it was rented out at various times for acrobatic displays and concerts. Poe’s mother is said to have given two concerts here in October 1811, barely two months before her death. In 1824, the Revolutionary War hero Lafayette was entertained in the building and made an honorary member. A fifteen-year-old Edgar Allan Poe was second-in-command of the honor guard that escorted Lafayette around Richmond and would have guarded the Lodge while the General was inside.
The lodge is still owned by the Masons, and they continue to hold regular meetings there. The lodge regularly holds open houses to share this landmark and its history with the public.
Shockoe Hill Cemetery
Established in 1820 when the burial grounds at St. John’s Church became overcrowded, Shockoe Hill Cemetery is the final resting place of many people close to Poe, including his foster parents John and Frances Allan, his first love Jane Stanard, his friend Eliza White, Chief Justice John Marshall, and his first and last fiancée Elmira Royster Shelton. According to his mother-in-law Maria Clemm, the cemetery was one of Poe’s favorite places for Sunday afternoon strolls with his wife Virginia. The cemetery is open from dawn to dusk every day.
This farmhouse was built in 1838 by Thomas Talley family, whose daughter, Susan Archer Talley, was a poet and a friend of Poe’s sister Rosalie. Poe and his sister spent many evenings there during the summer of 1849. Susan Talley, writing under her married name Susan Weiss, described Poe’s final private reading, given here just two weeks before his death.
The Sauer family, known for their food extracts, owned the home in the early 1900s and prevented it from being demolished while newer homes were being built all around it. In the 1970s, a group of preservationists purchased the house to restore it. Vincent Price visited the home in 1975 and recited “The Raven” in the same spot on which Poe stood while giving his final reading of the poem. Talavera remains a private residence and is not open to the public.
Poe visited Fort Monroe in Hampton Virginia on two different occasions. The first time was in 1828-1829, when Poe was stationed there while serving in the United States Army. While at the fort, he attained the rank of Regimental Sergeant-Major, the highest rank an enlisted man could achieve, but his dissatisfaction with military life led him to hire a substitute to serve the remainder of his term for him. The Casemate Museum, located on the base, features an exhibit about Poe’s time in the Army.
Poe returned to Fort Monroe twenty years later to give one of his last public readings in Norfolk and stayed at the Hygeia Hotel. One night during his stay, Poe gave a private reading for a few female admirers on the Hygeia’s veranda. The hotel was demolished during the Civil War.
Built in 1791, Hanover Tavern was located on the stagecoach route between Richmond and Washington D.C. During his many trips to and from Richmond, Poe could have spent the night there. Other notable guests include Charles Dickens, John Marshall, and P.T. Barnum. Tours are available, and the building houses a restaurant and a dinner theater.
Hiram Haines House
Poe spent his honeymoon in the Hiram Haines Coffee House. Haines, a newspaper editor and friend of Poe’s lived in the adjacent building at 16 Bank Street. An early admirer of Poe’s work, Haines became a lifelong friend of the poet’s. Haines once offered to give Poe’s wife a fawn as a gift, but Poe politely declined the present because he did not know a convenient way to ship a deer.
For years, the Coffee House was occupied by a used office furniture store, but, in 2009, author and preservationist Jeff Abugel purchased it and helped restore the first floor into a literary coffee house. In 2016, the building changed hands again and is no longer open to the public.
Edgar Allan Poe’s Dorm Room, University of Virginia
Edgar Allan Poe Spent one term at Thomas Jefferson’s newly opened University of Virginia. Although he excelled in his studies, he lacked the funds to stay an additional term. While living in this room, Poe may have written some of the poems in his first book Tamerlane as well as a short story that his classmates ridiculed so much that he burned the manuscript. The University has since honored its most celebrated dropout by placing a bronze bust of him in the Alderman Library, by establishing a Raven Society, and by preserving his dorm room. Visitors to the room can see it furnished much as it would have been during the author’s stay, and they can push a button to hear a recording about Poe’s life.
Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum
This humble brick row house was home to Edgar Allan Poe, his aunt Maria Poe Clemm, his grandmother Elizabeth Poe, and his cousins Virginia and Henry Clemm from early 1833 until the summer of 1835, when Poe moved back to Richmond. In these cramped quarters, Poe wrote his first-prize-winning tale “MS Found in a Bottle” and his first horror story “Berenice.”
The house was saved from destruction in 1941 and is now operated by Poe Baltimore. Guests can see Poe’s telescope and lap desk. The house is open for visitors on a seasonal schedule.
Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site
Poe lived in this house for about a year before he left Philadelphia for New York in April 1844. While living here, Poe experienced his greatest success to date with the publication of “The Gold-Bug.” Among the stories he may have written during his residence in the house are “The Black Cat” and “The Premature Burial.”
Today the site is operated by the National Park Service. Guests can explore the rooms in which Poe, his wife, and his mother-in-law lived and may visit the basement that probably inspired Poe’s story “The Black Cat.”
Edgar Allan Poe Cottage
Bronx, New York
After Poe’s wife wrote him a Valentine’s Day poem asking him to “give me a cottage for my home…removed from the world with its sin and care,” he rented this small Dutch Colonial farmhouse in the countryside near the village of Fordham, New York in May 1846. It was there his wife succumbed to tuberculosis in January 1847. Poe and his mother-in-law continued to live there until his death in October 1849. He wrote such classic poems as “Annabel Lee” and “The Bells,” as well as his last book Eureka, during those years.
Now administered by the Bronx County Historical Society, this humble structure has been faithfully preserved and is open to the public Thursday through Sunday. Visitors can see Poe’s rocking chair and the bed in which his wife died.
Poe's Grave Site
When Poe died in Baltimore in 1849, his cousins buried him in an unmarked grave in a Poe family plot at the Westminster Burying Grounds. Weeds and high grass eventually obscured the spot so badly that a movement began to construct a suitable memorial to the poet. The monument was finally unveiled in 1875, and Poe’s remains were moved across the cemetery to a more visible location. Eventually, he wife and mother-in-law were also buried next to him. The cemetery is also famous for the annual visits of the Poe Toaster, who visited Poe’s grave for a midnight toast on Poe’s birthday. Though the original Poe Toaster disappeared after his 2009 visit, the Maryland Historical Society has selected a new Poe Toaster to carry on the tradition. Visitors to the cemetery can see Poe's grave, a monument marking the location of his original 1849-1875 grave, and his grandfather's grave.
Providence, Rhode Island
Completed in 1838, this building serves as a library and cultural center. During his 1848 courtship of Providence widow Sarah Helen Whitman, Poe spent time with her in this building and even signed one of the magazines that contained his anonymously published poem “Ulalume.” The building remains dedicated to its initial purpose to encourage “a love of reading and learning to all.”
Sarah Helen Whitman House
Providence, Rhode Island
In 1845, Poe glimpsed Sarah Helen Whitman in the rose garden behind this house and later recalled the sight in his 1848 poem “To Helen.” The widowed Poe was briefly engaged to Mrs. Whitman in the fall of 1848, but she broke off the engagement after only one month. After his death a year later, Whitman claimed to hear unexplained noises in her house and, believing them to be caused by Poe’s spirit trying to communicate with her, hired a Spiritualist medium to move into her house for six months in order to help her decipher Poe’s messages. Whitman later became a medium herself. Although her house still stands, it is a private residence and is not open to the public.