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Edgar Allan Poe Museum (Richmond, Virginia)

Coordinates: 37°31′55.6″N 77°25′33.7″W / 37.532111°N 77.426028°W / 37.532111; -77.426028
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Poe Museum
Entrance to the museum in July 2020
Location1914 E. Main St.,
Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
Coordinates37°31′55.6″N 77°25′33.7″W / 37.532111°N 77.426028°W / 37.532111; -77.426028
TypeBiographical museum
DirectorMaeve Jones
PresidentAdam Worcester
CuratorChris Semtner
Old Stone House
Area0.4 acres (0.16 ha)
Architectural styleColonial
NRHP reference No.73002222[1]
VLR No.127-0100
Significant dates
Added to NRHPNovember 14, 1973
Designated VLROctober 16, 1973[2]

The Poe Museum or the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, is a museum located in the Shockoe Bottom neighborhood of Richmond, Virginia, United States, dedicated to American writer Edgar Allan Poe. Though Poe never lived in the building, it serves to commemorate his time living in Richmond. The museum holds one of the world's largest collections of original manuscripts, letters, first editions, memorabilia and personal belongings. The museum also provides an overview of early 19th century Richmond, where Poe lived and worked. The museum features the life and career of Poe by documenting his accomplishments with pictures, relics, and verse, and focusing on his many years in Richmond.

Old Stone House[edit]

The Poe Museum is located at the "Old Stone House", built circa 1740[3][4] and cited as the oldest original residential building in Richmond.[5] It was built by Jacob Ege,[6][7] who immigrated from Germany to Philadelphia in 1738 and came to the James River Settlements and Col. Wm. Byrd's land grant (now known as Richmond) in the company of the family of his fiancée, Maria Dorothea Scheerer, whom he later married; the house was a "Home for the Bride".[6][8] (One of Jacob's nephews, George Ege, was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Berks County, Pennsylvania.[9]) Dendrochronology suggests that additional construction on the house occurred in 1754. Jacob Ege died in 1762.[3] Samuel Ege, the son of Jacob and a Richmond flour inspector, owned the house in 1782 when it first appeared on a tax register.[5][10][11]

In 1824, when the Marquis de Lafayette revisited Richmond, a volunteer company of young Richmonders, the Junior Morgan Riflemen, rode in procession along Lafayette's carriage. One of the riflemen, the then 15-year-old Edgar Allan Poe, stood as honorguard outside the Ege house as Lafayette visited its inhabitants.[10][12][13] The house remained in possession of the Ege family until 1911.

Museum history[edit]

Amidst Poe's centennial in 1909, a group of Richmond residents campaigned for the city to better recognize the writer. Citizens asked the city council to erect a statue of Poe on Monument Avenue, but were turned down because he was deemed a disreputable character. The same group went on to found the Poe Museum.[14] The New York Times called 1909 a banner year for acknowledgement of the importance of Poe, mentioning the Richmond museum.[15] In 1911, Preservation Virginia (formerly known as the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities) saved the house and opened it in 1922 as the Old Stone House.

The museum is only blocks away from the sites of Poe's Richmond homes and place of employment, the Southern Literary Messenger. It is also a few blocks from the grave of his mother Eliza Poe who was buried in Richmond's Church Hill neighborhood, in the graveyard of St John's Church. Poe never lived in this home. Its completion, originally as the "Edgar Allan Poe Shrine", was announced on October 7, 1921:

This day... at a first expense of about $20,000, completes the Edgar Allan Poe Shrine, and marks the seventy-second anniversary of the death of the poet. If he is aware of mundane affairs he must be pleased to find that, at length, there has been reared to his memory a lasting and appropriate memorial.[16]

Actor Vincent Price, who had played in numerous film roles based on Poe stories, was a noted fan of the author. He visited the museum in 1975 and had his photo taken with the museum's renowned stuffed raven. In 2014, his daughter Victoria Price visited the museum, saying that Poe had been such a part of her life that she thought of him as her uncle. In 2016 Victoria Price returned to Richmond as part of a film festival featuring Poe films. The festival, in addition to a Poe Goes to the Movies Unhappy Hour with Victoria Price at the Poe Museum, presented films at Richmond's historic Byrd Theatre and An Evening with Victoria Price at the Cultural Arts Center in Glen Allen, Virginia.[17]


The Poe Museum's three buildings contain exhibits focusing on different aspects of the author's life and legacy. The parlor of the Old Stone House is used for the display of furniture from the homes in which Edgar Poe and his sister Rosalie Mackenzie Poe lived. Of special interest in this room is a piano that once belonged to Poe's sister and Edgar's childhood bed.

The Elizabeth Arnold Poe Memorial Building includes many first and early editions of Poe's works including an 1845 publication of "The Raven" and one of only 12 known existing copies of Poe's first collection Tamerlane and Other Poems.[18] Manuscripts and rare early daguerreotypes and portraits are also exhibited there.

The North Building is dedicated to exploring Poe's mysterious death. Among the highlights of the collection displayed are Poe's vest, trunk, walking stick and a lock of his hair. There are over 26 published theories on Poe's death, but the museum postulates that the 19th century practice of Cooping could have been a contributor to his death.

A courtyard area behind the museum includes a garden inspired by Poe's poem "To One in Paradise." The Enchanted Garden has a fountain, a shrine, and several gardens inspired by Poe's writing, such as a rock inscribed with a character's name from "A Tale of The Ragged Mountains" and a brick wall similar to the one described in "William Wilson." The garden is also home to the two resident cats, Edgar and Pluto. The two black cats were found as stray kittens behind the Shrine and have lived at the museum ever since. This space is also available for weddings.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  2. ^ "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  3. ^ a b Scott, Mary Wingfield, Houses of Old Richmond, The Valentine Museum, Richmond, 1941, pp 7-10
  4. ^ "Richmond: A Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary". Archived from the original on 2010-04-01. Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  5. ^ a b APVA: Old Stone House Archived 9 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b Scott, Mary Wingfield, op. cit pp 7-10
  7. ^ Ege, Rev. Thompson P, D.D., History and Genealogy of the Ege Family in the United States, 1738-1911, Star Printing Co., Harrisburg, PA, 1911, pp 5-11
  8. ^ Ege, op. cit. pp 5-11
  9. ^ Ege, ibid, pp 76-78
  10. ^ a b Scott Bergman, Sandi Bergman, Haunted Richmond: The Shadows of Shockoe, Charleston 2007, p. 102[permanent dead link] Google Books
  11. ^ Thompson Prettyman Ege: History and genealogy of the Ege family in the United States, 1738-1911, New York, 1911 Google Books
  12. ^ Keshia A. Case, Christopher P. Semtner: Edgar Allan Poe in Richmond, Charleston etc., 2009, p. 31 ISBN 978-0-7385-6714-3
  13. ^ Kenneth Silverman: Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-Ending Remembrance, New York, 1991, p. 24f. ISBN 0-06-092331-8
  14. ^ Harry Lee Poe: Edgar Allan Poe: An Illustrated Companion to His Tell-Tale Stories. New York: Metro Books, 2008: 9. ISBN 978-1-4351-0469-3
  15. ^ Rothstein, Edward (30 November 2009). "For Poe, This Has Been the Year to Die For". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 26 January 2017. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  16. ^ Mary E. Phillips: Edgar Allan Poe: The Man. Chicago: The John C. Winston Company, 1926. p. 1524-1525
  17. ^ Curran, Colleen (21 September 2016). "Poe Museum celebrates Edgar Allan Poe with the International Poe Film Festival". Richmond.com. Richmond Times-Dispatch. Archived from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  18. ^ Lloyd Rose: "Yo, Poe: In Richmond, a museum rises from the dead Archived 2015-05-28 at archive.today." The Washington Post, May 10, 1998.
  19. ^ Poe Museum homepage - weddings Archived 2009-12-04 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]