Visiting the Edgar Allan Poe Museum
In the Shockoe Bottom neighborhood of Richmond, Virginia, you will find a tiny brick building set back from the street, adjoined to the city’s oldest residential home. In front of that tiny brick building along the sidewalk sits a crocked black sign that reads Poe Museum. Both structures, which house the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, are considered the international center for all things Poe.
What to Know Before You Go
The Poe Museum is located at 1914 E Main Street, Richmond, VA 23223. You can use 2-hour on-street parking or the parking lot that sits next to the building. Admission is $10 per adult, $7 for seniors, and $3 for children over six years old. There are two black cats on the premises that may join you on your tour. It’s okay! Their names are Edgar and Pluto, and they live on the grounds.
How the Poe Museum Began
James Howard Whitty, a researcher and Poe fan, helped to form the Poe Memorial Association in 1906. The group attempted to turn the Southern Literary Messenger building, where Poe began his career, into the first Poe museum. However, plans to demolish the building became imminent. Instead, Whitty and the group saved building materials from the building to use elsewhere. Whitty eventually met two preservationists living in the Old Stone House.
Touring The Poe Museum
The Enchanted Garden
The preservationists agreed to allow Whitty to use the lot behind the home to build the Poe Memorial Garden. It was here that he paved the garden paths with the bricks taken from the Southern Literary Messenger building. The garden was inspired by Poe’s poem “To One In Paradise,” which reads,
Thou wast that all to me, love,
For which my soul did pine—
A green isle in the sea, love,
A fountain and a shrine,
All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers,
And all the flowers were mine.
The shrine at the back of the garden was also paved with bricks from the Southern Literary Messenger, where Poe’s journalism career began. The ivy that climbs the shrine was taken from his mother’s grave, and the benches are from the boarding house where he married his wife.
Old Stone House: Poe’s Childhood
You’ll begin your tour in the Old Stone House, which holds artifacts from Edgar Allan Poe’s childhood. Poe was born in Boston, but after his father abandoned the family, his mother moved them to Richmond. A year later, his mother, Eliza Poe, died from tuberculosis. Poe was taken in by John and Frances Allan, and that is where he got his last name.
Poe was said to be a very bright student excelling in literature, acting, and swimming. When he was just 15, he swam 6 miles up the James River. At the age of 16, Poe proposed to his neighbor Elmira Royster, but the engagement was eventually broken off after her father found out.
The Old Stone House is filled with information on Poe’s childhood, along with some of his writing and drawings.
Elizabeth Arnold Poe Memorial Building
The Elizabeth Arnold Poe Memorial Building takes you through Poe’s literary career. Poe wrote poems, short stories, satires, and comedies. The stairs in the house were taken from Poe’s childhood home on 14th and Tabaco Alley, which has since been demolished.
The house also takes you through the interesting love life of Edgar Allen Poe. Poe married his first cousin Virginia when she was 13 and he was 27. Tragically, she passed away from tuberculosis at the age of 24. After her death, he pursued his childhood sweetheart Elmira, eventually becoming again engaged to her. Sadly though, Poe died days before they were to be married.
The North Building
In the North Building, you’ll learn about the feud between Poe and Rufus Griswold. It is said that Rufus Griswold wrote a biography about Poe that demonized him. Therefore, much of the information we have read about Poe may need incorrect.
You’ll then learn about Edgar Allan Poe’s mysterious death. To this day, no one knows what led up to Poe’s condition the night he was taken to the Washington Medical College in Baltimore, Maryland on October 3, 1849. He would die just 4 days later. All of his medical records have been lost. There are many theories about his death including: alcoholism, murder, hypoglycemia, brain tumor, syphilis, and rabies.
The Edgar Allan Poe Museum is quite intriguing because of the interesting life Poe led. Don’t skip this museum when visiting Richmond, Virginia! The museum is small and should only take an hour or so to walk through. Don’t forget to check out the Poe souvenirs at the front entrance before you leave!
More Articles From Wander With Alex
This article was produced and syndicated by Wander With Alex.
Alexandrea Sumuel is a travel writer and the founder of the Wander With Alex travel blog, where she provides vacationers and travel enthusiasts with trip ideas, travel guides, news, and itineraries. She travels to experience, eat, and explore-- and, on occasion, escape! Alex’s mission is to help people travel a little easier.