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Edgar Allan Poe National Historical Site

Updated on July 16, 2011

Phildalephia being the historical city that it is, many visitors are drawn to visit the numerous historical sites that dot the map. Literary minds will be excited to visit the Edgar Allan Poe Historic Site on North Seventh Street. A tour of Poe's one-time home is an educational journey which inspires its travellers to read more of the talented poet and storyteller's work.

The Poe house, now a part of the National Park Service, is open Wednesday to Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free for all, so there's really no good excuse not to visit this wonderful piece of literary history. A standard guided tour lasts about 45 minutes, exploring the creepy corners and narrow staircases of the house. The tour guides strive to encourage an appreciation of the author and his legacy.

The History

Edgar Allan Poe lived in Philadelphia with his wife and mother-in-law from 1838 to 1844, but only spent about a year in this beautiful brick home. Like many other brilliant authors, Poe struggled to find steady work. He came to Philadelphia, known as a literary hub at the time, in the hopes of getting a job, which he did. Although eventually recognized as the father of the detective story, Poe hardly got paid much at all for the stories that he sold.

Yet his legacy has influenced many writers in the mystery and science fiction genres, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, Dorothy Sayers, Alfred Hitchcock, and Stephen King.

A markerEdgar Allan Poe's House -
532 N 7th St, Philadelphia, PA 19123, USA
get directions

Some of the stories that Poe penned while in Philadelphia are:

"Murders in the Rue Morgue"

"The Tell-Tale Heart"

"The Fall of the House of Usher"

"The Purloined Letter"

"The Gold-Bug"

"The Black Cat"

"The Masque of the Red Death"

"The Pit and the Pendulum"

"The Cask of Amontillado"

Poe's iconic raven guards the house
Poe's iconic raven guards the house

Who was Edgar Allan Poe?

  • born in Boston January 19, 1809
  • raised by foster family after father abandoned him and mother died
  • lived in British Isles from 1815 to 1820
  • served in the Army, gaining rank of Sergeant Major
  • published poetry as a young man
  • married his 13-year old cousin Virginia on September 22, 1835
  • wrote and published many short stories, inventing the detective story
  • known as a literary critic
  • lost his wife to consumption in 1847
  • was known for his alcoholism and erratic behavior
  • died of unknown causes October 7, 1849

a mural on the window shows Philadelphia during the time of Poe
a mural on the window shows Philadelphia during the time of Poe
to enter the house, you must knock on the door with this heavy doorknocker
to enter the house, you must knock on the door with this heavy doorknocker

When you arrive at the front door of the Edgar Allan Poe house, a sign instructs you to knock before entering, using the heavy intimidating doorknocker. The house no longer contains furniture, but the present owners attempt to stir up the imagination by providing several murals on the walls of the bare rooms. The house itself might appear to be falling apart at the seams to some eyes, but this appearance is intentional. The effect is meant to be more Poe-like, providing a mysterious Gothic atmosphere. Paint peels from the walls, the walls crack down to the foggy windows, and the floors creak with visitor feet. Before visiting the Poe home, I recommend reading one of Poe's marvelous stories, such as "The Tell-tale Heart" or "The Black Cat" (which has a cellar similar to the one in the house).

latch door
latch door
cracked and unpainted walls
cracked and unpainted walls
the bare rooms are cast with a gloomy light
the bare rooms are cast with a gloomy light
the cobwebbed cellar
the cobwebbed cellar
mural of Edgar Allan Poe across the street from his house
mural of Edgar Allan Poe across the street from his house

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    • Rose West profile image
      Author

      Rose West 7 years ago from Michigan

      Hi mquee, Poe's writing is definitely unique - I think it's really interesting learning about the author behind the stories. Thanks for reading!

    • mquee profile image

      mquee 7 years ago from Columbia, SC

      Poe is one of my favorite writers. I never knew any of these details about his life, but all of his writings had a unique flow. Thanks for sharing.

    • Rose West profile image
      Author

      Rose West 7 years ago from Michigan

      SimoneSmith, I had a lot of fun trying to capture the eeriness of the house in photographs. I hope anyone who stumbles across this will be intrigued enough to visit for themselves.

    • Rose West profile image
      Author

      Rose West 7 years ago from Michigan

      Jane, it was a fascinating place to visit - one of my favorite unplanned surprises on a vacation to Philadelphia. As to tour guides (who can be eccentric in many cases anyway), the one I met seemed fairly normal and sunny actually, but she did have a great love of Poe.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 7 years ago from San Francisco

      How cool! I really love the photos you took. This hub makes for a great virtual tour, as well as a guide to anyone looking to visit the place in person.

    • Jane Grey profile image

      Ann Leavitt 7 years ago from Oregon

      I loved the original pictures and the creepy descriptions you gave! What a fascinating place to visit. I wonder-- were the tour guides mysterious or morbid? It seems anyone wanting to spend their days giving tours of Poe's house would have to be slightly uncanny.

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