Known best for his macabre short stories, Edgar Allan Poe is also credited with inventing the detective fiction genre. His life and death were shrouded by many of the elements that made his literary works successes. Discover the spots where he lived, played and died on this tour of Poe in America.
Poe was born in Boston in 1809, but had a love-hate relationship with the city, so much so the statue unveiled in 2014 was called “Poe Returning to Boston.” Whether it was Poe’s skepticism of the literary elite, a failed reading at the Boston Lyceum or a combination of factors, he made a hasty retreat from the city.
The statue – lobbied for by a private group – stands in Poe Square, at the corner of the Public Garden and the Boston Common.
Poe was stationed at Fort Independence for a five-month stint. While at the fort, he learned of an incident that would be the basis for his short story “The Cask of Amontillado.”
Poe grew up and was married in Richmond. He worshipped with his family at Monumental Episcopal Church, commissioned after the Richmond Theater where Poe’s mother once performed burnt down.
While none of the Richmond structures Poe grew up in still stand, the Poe Museum is a few blocks from the site of his first Richmond home. It’s Virginia’s only literary museum and holds the world’s largest collection of Poe artifacts. It was restored with locks, doorknobs and hinges taken from Poe’s Richmond employer, the Southern Literary Messenger.
In 1826, Poe was a student at the University of Virginia. Poe aficionados can visit the campus and see his room through a glass door – done up in 19th-century furnishings – and listen to a recording about Poe’s time at the university.
Sullivan’s Island, S.C.
Poe spent a mere 13 months at his Army post of Fort Moultrie, but the island figured as the setting for three short stories: “The Gold Bug,” “The Balloon Hoax” and “The Oblong Box.” Today, patrons of the laid-back town pay homage to his memory at Poe’s Tavern.
Poe lived in several homes during his stint in Philadelphia, but a site administered by the National Park Service is the only one left standing. Its basement is eerily similar to the one described in his work “The Black Cat,” one of the 30 short stories he published while living in Philly.
New York City
Poe spent the last years of his life in a wooden farmhouse in the Bronx where he wrote “The Bells,” “Eureka” and “Annabel Lee.” The building is a city and state landmark, and has been recognized as a historic house museum since 1975. The house where Poe wrote “The Raven” is commemorated in three ways: by the designation of Edgar Allan Poe Street, on bronze plaques and in the long-standing Edgar’s Cafe.
The former Evening Mirror Building – now fittingly called the Edgar House – stands as a beacon to pre-war architecture at 25 Ann Street. It’s not open to the public but worth a walk past to envision his former work digs.
Poe met his wife and published his second volume of poetry in Baltimore, but it was a contest in the Baltimore Saturday Visiter – he won for best short story – that launched Poe’s career.
Poe’s great-grandfather established the family home in Baltimore in 1755. This National Historic Landmark building contains the original fabric, plaster walls and woodwork, and contains important Poe artifacts such as his portable writing desk and chair, a telescope, and china and glassware he used.
Other important spots include the Enoch Free Library, a monument to literature – and Poe – for decades. Among its Poe mementos in its Central Library location are original letters, manuscripts, a lock of his hair and a piece of his coffin. The George Peabody Library houses some rare Poe books, letters and a large collection of musical settings for his writings.
In 1849, Poe was traveling from Richmond, Va., to New York City when he went missing. He was later found unconscious in a local drinking establishment – believed to be The Horse You Came In On Saloon – in Fells Point. It is said his ghost still haunts the area.
Church Home and Hospital is memorialized as the place Poe died.
His body rests at Westminster Hall &Burying Ground.
Baltimore’s memorial statue to Poe, the last work of American sculptor Sir Moses Jacob Ezekiel, is in the plaza of the University of Baltimore’s Law School.
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