Open House New York was this past weekend, and a glorious weekend it was!
Many homes, businesses, facilities, normally closed-to-public places threw open their doors over the 2-day period. It happens once a year, and already I can’t wait until next year.
One of the places that I visited was the Edgar Allan Poe cottage, in the Bronx.
Edgar Allan Poe
lived here, with his young wife (and cousin) Virginia
and his mother-in-law (and aunt) Maria Clemm. Virginia suffered from tuberculosis, and the family hoped that living in the country air would help her.
This is what the area looked like, then:
This is what the area looks like now:
The Poe family lived in a little cottage there where the tall brown building now stands (in the very center of the picture), from 1844 – 1849.
The cottage, which was built in 1812, was later moved across the street into a small park, where it is now on the National Register of Historic Places, and is a small museum.
The park is named, aptly enough, Poe Park.
The cottage is currently being renovated, but was open these 2 days just for OHNY.
Poe paid $100.00/year rent for this cottage. He wrote some of his most famous works here, including “Annabel Lee,” “Eureka” and “The Bells.”
He loved the small home.
The parlor (the rocking chair is Poe’s original chair – all other furniture is of the period but not from the family):
The bedroom is still being renovated – here’s a picture from the house’s website:
The bed is the original Poe bed. It will soon be back in the Poe cottage bedroom.
According to Wikipedia:
“Virginia and Poe were by all accounts a happy and devoted couple. Poe’s one-time employer George Rex Graham wrote of their relationship: “His love for his wife was a sort of rapturous worship of the spirit of beauty.” Poe once wrote to a friend, “I see no one among the living as beautiful as my little wife.” She, in turn, by many contemporary accounts, nearly idolized her husband. She often sat close to him while he wrote, kept his pens in order, and folded and addressed his manuscripts.”
Sadly, Virginia died in that bed at the age of 24, on January 30, 1947.
After she died, Edgar Allan Poe became increasingly unstable.
He died a broken man, not quite 2 years later.
Again, from Wikipedia:
“On October 3, 1849, Poe was found on the streets of Baltimore delirious, “in great distress, and… in need of immediate assistance”, according to the man who found him, Joseph W. Walker. He was taken to the Washington College Hospital, where he died on Sunday, October 7, 1849, at 5:00 in the morning. Poe was never coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition, and, oddly, was wearing clothes that were not his own.
All medical records, including his death certificate, have been lost. Newspapers at the time reported Poe’s death as “congestion of the brain” or “cerebral inflammation”, common euphemisms for deaths from disreputable causes such as alcoholism. The actual cause of death remains a mystery.”
Despite the somber ending to this story, the Poe cottage is well-worth a visit. Be sure to check their website for the details on when it will reopen.
It’s located at 2640 Grand Concourse, 718-881-8900 (I took the 4 subway to Kingsbridge Road, then it’s a 3-4 block walk.)
Here are two paintings of the cottage which hang on its walls.
Rather like Edgar Allan Poe’s own life…