Edgar Allan Poe lived in the 19th century in several states on the East Coast. As a literary critic, poet, and short story writer, he grew an exceptional cult fan base. Today, in commemoration of his work, the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond Virginia stands as a reminder of his short yet powerful literary career.
The History of the Edgar Allan Poe Museum
The Edgar Allan Poe Museum was founded over a century ago by collector and researcher, James Howard Whitty met with another group of Poe fans in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia. They wanted to create a monument to the writer.
In 1906, however, the Poe Memorial Association was organized, but it wasn’t until 1916 that the organization started taking off. At the time, the city’s building inspector decided the building needed to be destroyed, but unwavering in his support of Poe, Whitty gathered the materials to reconstruct the building at a new location. Whitty and the organization saved the Southern Literary Messenger building where Poe started his writing career. He met with Archer and Annie Jones who rented Richmond’s Old Stone House—Richmond’s oldest—using it as a colonial museum at the time. However, Mrs. Jones decided a lot behind the building would be a good fit for Poe memorial garden. Whitty used bricks and granite from the previous demolished Literary Messenger building to pave the garden and build the Poe Shrine.
Working with Whitty, Mrs. Jones helped create Poe’s vision of paradise to life. Eventually, Jones decided to shut down the colonial history museum and restore the house with new lumber, doorknobs, and locks all from the Southern Literary Messenger Museum. The new space highlighted Whitty’s Poe collection and other various pieces from other collectors and relatives.
A few years later, on April 26, 1922, the Poe Shrine was opened to the public. Throughout it’s over hundred-year history, the museum has experienced a unique history that honors Poe and his work well.
The Edgar Allen Poe Museum Today
Within just 10 years of opening, the museum had expanded past its original building into another three buildings. The third and final was the Elizabeth Arnold Poe Memorial Building which was made from a staircase that was taken from one of Poe’s childhood homes.
Eventually, the Poe Memorial Association was reorganized as the Poe Foundation, which maintained the shrine. Today, the Poe Museum’s collection is the largest in the world with its programs reaching countless literary enthusiasts, teachers, scholars, and students each and every year.
Visiting the Museum
If you’re interested in visiting the Richmond, Virginia Poe Museum, there are countless ways to do so. The museum is a unique treat, whether you’re an Edgar Allan Poe fan or just someone who enjoys history. If you aren’t able to physically visit the museum, they also have online resources and online guided tours to help you out. The virtual tour includes a look at the Enchanted Garden, Gift Shop, and the largest collection of his work in the world.
And if you’re a student or teacher, you can access countless resources right at the museum. Explore this enchanting memorial to one of the 19th century’s greatest authors in person.
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