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#56 & 62: Edgar Allan Poe House – Philadelphia

July 12, 2010

Yay! A two-fer!

On Friday we wanted to beat the traffic to the Phillies game, so we went into the city early to visit the Edgar Allan Poe House.

Poe only grew his iconic mustache after his beloved wife fell ill and he went into a depression from which he never recovered.

It was a short, interesting visit. It’s run by the National Park Service, and the gentlemen at the House that day couldn’t have been friendlier or more informative. We found out that Poe lived in Philadelphia from 1838 – 1844 and he came here because at the time Philadelphia was the center of publishing in the U.S. We also found out that the name Allan is not his middle name but the last name of his foster parents, who took him in after his mother died when he was three.

Unrelated to Poe, we also learned that the reason Spring Garden and Market Streets are four lanes is because in the 1800s there used to be market stalls in the center lanes — much like there currently is on Second Street above South Street now. I love little tidbits like that!

I’ve always enjoyed Poe’s writing, so I was interested to see the house. Unfortunately, since he lived there only a short time (12 – 18 month) and he rented, there’s nothing left from when he lived there. The front facade isn’t even the same. The NPS has done a nice job of showing us what it might have looked like when Poe lived there with large paintings of hypothetical furniture on the walls and a small model of what the exterior shape of the house was in the 1830s, but it’s still mostly empty rooms. It’s neat to think that Poe once walked on the same floors, but that’s about as far as the visit goes — everything we learned there can easily be found in books or on the internet, and there’s nothing to see but the structure itself.

In the end, it was an interesting hour, but a fan of Poe might get more out of a few books and a visit to his gravesite in Baltimore instead.

Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

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