Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia: Poe Museum
The Oldest House in Richmond, Virginia
A visit to the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia
A favorite tourist spot, especially in October, is the Poe Museum of Richmond, Virginia. Located on East Main Street, the Poe Museum honors the life of American author Edgar Allan Poe, (January 19, 1809-October 7, 1849). Fascinated with Poe’s grisly talent, I was excited to learn that I live a short drive from the museum. A road trip is always fun and as my friend and I embarked on our adventure we were in no hurry to rush through the day.
The Poe Museum is a tiny place that includes the Old Stone House, a house built in the early 1700’s and considered to be the oldest house still standing in Richmond. The museum itself has been in existence since 1922. The current staff is young, friendly, and Poe enthusiasts. While visiting, we discovered that tourists come from all over the world. As two young men exited the museum we struck up a conversation with them and found out they were visiting from England; later we ran into a group from Germany.
The Old Stone House holds a gift shop where one can buy Raven and Poe book markers, postcards, Enchanted Garden book bags and other Poe souvenirs. Guided tours are available at no cost. The Museum also offers interactive educational activities for teachers and students, including a Poe writing contest, and regularly planned community events.
The Enchanted Garden
We began our tour within the Old Stone House itself. Just off of the gift shop is a parlor room displaying some of the original furniture and clothing belonging to the Allan family, (Edgar Allan Poe’s adopted family), along with postings of Poe’s biographical information. Poe’s boyhood bed, as well as his sister Rosalie’s piano, are two of the original pieces of furniture one can view.
Stepping out of the Old Stone House we entered a courtyard called, The Enchanted Garden . It was a dreary day, overcast and wet with a misty rain that fell the entire time we toured…just perfect for the setting of a Poe tale. The garden was kept clean and neat with side borders of simple shrubbery and a fountain towards the furthest end of the lawn. A bust of Poe is set in an arched shrine at the far end of the garden. Later, I learned that the garden is also used for weddings.
I also learned that The Enchanted Garden has been created from the inspirational Poe poem: To one in Paradise. I was fascinated to find out that the bricks and benches of the garden and shrine were made from salvaged material that was associated with Poe’s life. Some of the bench material came from the foundation of Mrs. Yarrington’s Boarding House, which is where Poe and his second cousin, Virginia Clemm, were wed. The bricks in the shrine and garden path were taken from Poe’s place of employment: The Southern Literary Messenger.
To One in Paradise:
The Memorial Building and Rose Garden
Besides the Old Stone House there are three main museum buildings: a Model Building, an Exhibit Building, and the Elizabeth Arnold Poe Memorial Building. The Model Building is named for the model of Richmond, Virginia during Poe’s lifetime in the early nineteenth century. He lived in Richmond for thirteen years at various times between his travels to New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, where his father’s family resided. The Memorial Building was named after Poe’s mother who died when he was just three years old. And, the Exhibit Building was once a tearoom in the early twentieth century but was turned into a place that exemplifies Poe’s talents.
We continued our self-tour in the Memorial Building. It was my favorite area, after The Enchanted Garden, because it had so many artifacts of a personal nature. A white linen embroidered vest Poe wore frequently, and his walking stick, were two articles I was most drawn to. The vest was in extraordinary condition and was an example of how Poe dressed as a Virginian gentleman despite periods of poverty. I was fascinated with Poe’s walking stick because you could clearly see his last name engraved on the silver tip. I learned that Poe, while visiting his friend, Dr. John Carter, had inadvertently left behind the walking stick.
Next, we followed the path through the Rose Garden to the Exhibit Building. The Rose Garden was inspired by the line in Poe’s poem: To Helen: “The upturned face of a thousand roses that grew in an enchanted garden”.
Elizabeth Arnold Poe
Hop-Frog-a grisly ending for the King
In the Exhibit Building we listened to the mesmerizing taped story of Poe’s tale: Hop-Frog . The room was filled with life-sized manikins of the figures portrayed in the story: the King and his friends, and poor little Hop-Frog, the unfortunate dwarf jester. We moved from exhibit to exhibit with the promptings of the tape to reach the final display-that of Hop-Frog’s diabolical cleverness at the demise of the insensitive King and his cohorts. Following a narrow staircase we entered the upper level of this building and noted a room filled with Poe portraits from various artists.
The exit door led back into the Garden where we visited the shrine, which mostly consisted of the bust of Edgar Allan Poe sculpted in the early 1900’s by Edwin T. Quinn. There are chairs nearby and in close proximity to both the shrine and the Exhibit entrance is a fountain. This fountain has been replaced when necessary due to deterioration from the elements.
The Poe Shrine
The Model Building
The last building we visited was the Model Building. It holds a model Richmond, Virginia marking the various places Poe was a part of including a replica of the Southern Literary Messenger office; the house of his first love and fiancé, Elmira Royster, who incidentally became betrothed to another man while Poe was away at school; and a total of nine homes Poe lived in.
In addition to the miniature town of Richmond, Virginia, the Model Building was an historical haven telling interesting bits and pieces of Poe’s raucous days of gambling, drinking, and being kicked out of the prestigious West Point Academy…all quite fascinating, actually.
Handling a 'mishap': take photos!Click thumbnail to view full-size
As we were leaving the Model Building I returned once more for a final walk through the Enchanted Garden and to take photos of the doorway leading from the Exhibit Building to the Garden. In true ‘Poe Tale’ fashion, I walked backwards further and further away from the entrance to get just the right photo angle and plunged feet first into the fountain. What a shock! I let out a surprised yell and was soaked up to my knees.
My friend quickly came to my aid and helped me out of the fountain, and then obliged my request to have some photos taken of me ‘green slimed’. Thank goodness I had a spare set of clothes in my car to change in. Despite the accident it was a delightful and educational afternoon.
Stories by Poe
My Rating for the Poe Museum
How I rated the Poe Museum
The ‘4 star’ rating was based on the historical value and interesting exhibits. One criticism was the lack of wheelchair friendly accessibility throughout the facility. The second criticism was the lack of adequate bathroom facilities. Otherwise, I would highly recommend anyone who is a Poe enthusiast, or history buff, to visit the Poe Museum if you happen to be in the Richmond, Virginia area. Give yourself at least an hour and a half to be able to appreciate the exhibits and absorb the information. But, watch your footing around the fountain.
Museum members Free
Corporate members Free
Hours of Operation:
Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 pm
Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 pm
Note: The Gift Shop closes one half hour before the museum closes.
The Poe Museum
The Poe Museum begins in the Old Stone House. Phone: 1-804-648-5523 or toll free 1-888-21E-APOE
Location and contact number of the Poe Museum:
1914-16 East Main St. Richmond, Virginia 23223
1-804-648-5523 or Toll Free: 1-888-21E APOE (1-888-213-2763)
Additional Edgar Allan Poe hubs:
- Edgar Allen Poe
You will be pulled into his world with poems like The Raven.His short stories of mystery and macabre will leave you wanting more.