The Old Stone House
Poe and the Old Stone House
After escorting Lafayette to the Richmond
Randolph Masonic Lodge, Poe and the honor guard took the General to the Old Stone House, the residence of the Ege family which had helped supply
Lafayette’s troops during the Revolution. Lafayette is said to have picked up the Eges’ son and showed him so much attention that the family
named the boy Lafayette. Poe would have been guarding the outside of the house. In the years to come, Poe would pass the house several times
on his walks down Main Street to Rocket’s Landing. He would have known of it since the house was already appearing in guidebooks as a Richmond
landmark during Poe’s lifetime. An 1843 book already refers to the century-old house as “the old Stone House” and calls it the oldest house
in Richmond. There is no evidence that Poe ever entered the house and any association it might have had with Poe was less important to the
city than its association with Lafayette. In the last half of the nineteenth century, the house, then used as a curio shop, was called “Lafayette’s
Headquarters” or “Washington’s Headquarters” even though neither had actually used it as their headquarters at any time. In fact, Washington
had never even visited the house.
Preservation and the Poe Museum
The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities saved the building from destruction in 1913 and loaned it to the Poe Foundation for use as a Poe Museum which opened in 1922. Beginning in 1927, the surrounding buildings were removed or cut back to reveal three sides of the house. A 1970 restoration removed later additions like mantels and wood paneling and replaced the deteriorating floorboards in the west room, but the floorboards in the east room are believed to still be original or at least very old. Examination of the tree rings on the removed floorboards has dated them to 1754. The wooden shingles were installed on the roof during this restoration. In 2012, the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (now called Preservation Virginia) formally donated the Old Stone House to the Poe Museum.
A peculiar feature of the house is the insignia “IR” to the right of the east window on the south side of the house. One theory holds that the initials stand for “Jacobus Rex” meaning “King James” and that the house was built during the brief reign of James II from 1685 to 1688. Other theories suggest that the stone was either found among the ballast stones thrown ashore from ships coming to load up with tobacco at the Port of Manchester or that the stone was left by Christopher Newport when he first reached the Falls of the James in 1607 during the reign of James I.