In a centuries old stone house on a street called Main in a city called Richmond, lurks the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe.
Okay, maybe not. But if his ghost wanted to haunt any place, it would feel quite at home in the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, which has been housed in the Old Stone House since 1922. The museum is situated just blocks from Poe’s first home in Richmond and the Southern Literary Messenger office, where Poe was employed.
He would probably feel at home in the Enchanted Garden, inspired by his poems, “To One in Paradise,” and “To Helen” (1848). In the back of the garden is a pavilion known as The Shrine; it’s made from bricks taken from the Richmond building at 15th and Main streets that housed the Southern Literary Messenger. It was as a staff writer there that Poe first gained national attention.
In addition to the Old Stone House, several other buildings make up the compound that accommodates the collection of Poe memorabilia. You’ll take a step back into the 19th century as you view personal items, such as a soup ladle from his last home, a trunk, and clothing.
Reminders of a younger Poe await in the Carriage House where a narrow flight of stairs lead to his boyhood bedroom. The bed is low, covered with a quilt that belonged to Poe, and other items have been arranged to re-create the room where he would have spent many hours. These include a table, ladder-back chair, a brass candlestick and a mantel.
Another room contains 43 ink and wash drawings that illustrate Poe’s most famous poem, “The Raven.” Artist James Carling, an admirer of Poe, created the illustrations in the 1880s. Throughout the museum are oil paintings, engravings and drawings, including portraits of Poe’s foster parents.
Poe came to Richmond with his actor parents at a young age, but was orphaned by the age of three; he was raised by foster parents John and Frances Allan. At the age of 27, he married his 13-year-old cousin Virginia Clemm, and even though it wasn’t unusual for cousins to marry, her youth was an anomaly. The marriage certificate, which is displayed in the Elizabeth Arnold Poe Memorial Building, lists Clemm’s age as 21.
Other items in the museum include first editions of Poe’s books, including “Eureka,” published just one year before his death. Also in the museum are manuscripts and letters written by Poe, his mother-in-law, business partners, friends, and even his enemies.
The lover of literature and history will thoroughly enjoy this museum. Other highlights includes a model of how Richmond would have looked in Poe’s time, his walking stick, his young wife’s trinket box, his vest and a lock of his hair.
Want to go?
Edgar Allan Poe Museum
1914-16 E. Main Street
Richmond, VA, 23223
Tickets: Adults $6, Senior Citizens and Students $5, Poe Museum Members, Free