The Poe Pilgrimmage, Part One


I’ve only lived in New York for over 25 years — without ever getting around to visiting the home of Edgar Allan Poe, one of my favorite writers. New Yorkers, you know the reason why. All together: “It’s in the Bronx!” From my house, that’s nearly two hours away. It takes longer to get there than it takes to tour the museum. But I wisely doubled up,  bundling the visit together with my trip to Woodlawn Cemetery yesterday — I highly recommend it.

Why I call this Part One? New York is one of four cities which have a Poe House Museum, the others being Philadelphia, Baltimore and Richmond. I intend to visit them all. And we have also already visited what may be counted as “.5”:  a house where he stayed and library he used to frequent in Providence. 

The one I visited yesterday is the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage, which is maintained by the Bronx Historical Society. It’s where Poe lived and wrote from 1846 through his death in 1849, along with his child bride Virginia Clemm and her mother (who also happened to be his aunt — you do the math). Sadly, Virginia only lived there for a few weeks. Stricken with T.B., she perished on the premises. The bed where she expired is on view at the Poe Cottage:


Most of the furniture in the house, while historically appropriate, wasn’t part of the house when Poe lived there.


Not Poe’s desk, but he wrote Annabelle Lee here at one just like it

Poe only outlived his wife by something less than three years. It’s safe to say he never ceased mourning. A lot of his time was spent wandering around the still rural Bronx, traipsing the High Bridge, and walking to Fordham (then St. John’s College) to rap with the Jesuit priests. It’s a melancholy scene, and his modest house was surely the farthest thing from a distraction — more like the lifestyle of  monk.


Yes, I know this was Poe — a certain amount of time was spent at taverns.!Anyway, the tour guide at the little museum was terrific: enthusiastic, animated and knowledgeable.  Much of what I’ve already included in this post came from him. He also pointed out some other cool stuff:

  • a mysterious blemish in a period mirror in the shape of — dare I say — a raven?
  • the house’s last remaining original pane of glass. Believe it or not, it’s fascinating, and the different is noticeable. (Older glass is much less uniform and sheer, it’s full of swirls)
  • an ironic newspaper clipping announcing Poe’s intention to start a new literary publication, The Stylus. The clip was from October 7, 1849, the day Poe died while on a speaking tour in Baltimore.



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