See where the "master of the macabre" penned his American masterpieces. During the six years (1838-1844) that he ... More
Edgar Allan Poe House
See where the "master of the macabre" penned his American masterpieces. During the six years (1838-1844) that he lived in Philadelphia, Poe wrote and published some of his most groundbreaking tales including: "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," "The Fall of the House of Usher," and "The Tell-Tale Heart." The three-building site creates a sense of literary curiosity. What type of surroundings could have inspired a man to put to paper his morose visions of death and betrayal? Admission is free to the public.
If you're in Philadelphia only to see the Liberty Bell and/or Independence Hall, you might miss out on one of the most exciting places in Philadelphia. The Poe NHS really invokes the spirit of Poe and the staff is impressively enthusiastic and knowledgeable on Poe, even with how complicated his story is. Don't be surprised if you find two different Rangers with two very different opinions on Poe's life (and don't be surprised if you catch them discussing and arguing their differing viewpoints).
The house is left unfurnished so it's not about being a "historic home" as much as it is a shrine to one of the most important writers in American literary history. Don't agree he's that important? Let the tour guides tell you about what he did that was NOT horror - and you'll see he was incredibly influential. They do offer a self-guided tour but, even with the free admission, it is not worth it. Let the guides tell you their spin on the story of Poe and you won't regret it.
The Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site is absolutely free admission and an overall fun and very educational experience. You must knock on the door to be welcomed into the Edgar Allan Poe exhibit, which is actually inside the house next Poe's house. Inside there is a gift shop upon entering and a warm greeting from the park rangers and volunteers. I frequently visit the house and can honestly that not only are the park rangers very knowledgable and enthusuastic about Edgar Allan Poe, but also the people they choose as volunteers.
After you pass the gift shop at the front desk you may freely browse around the exhibit which are walls of pictures and information reguards Poe's family, his works, and some brief descriptions of the contemporaries of his time such as Charles Dickens, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Washington Irving. After viewing the exhibit you have the option to watch an 8 minute presentation that summarizes Poe's life and his work inside the screening room.
After viewing or not viewing the video presentation you are given a brief description by one of the tour guides about how the house looked during Poe's time residing there and you are given an option to go on a guided tour or to explore the house freely on your own. It is then when you are taken to another door where you can step down and inside Edgar Allan Poe's preserved home. You will not find any furniture for no one knows how the house was furnished. Taking photos is very much encouraged also.
The first room you step into is believed to be the parlor, the room next to it was believed to be a kitchen. Upstairs you will find Poe's room and a small room that was believed to be his sitting room. Go up another floor and you will find the rooms of Virginia Poe (his wife) and her mother Maria "Muddy" Clemm. Mind the surprises they hide in the closets and under the floor boards! You will follow the exit to downstairs that will lead you outside to a porch and over to what was the actual front of the house where you will find the Raven statue. You may enter the house again from there and go downstairs to the cellar. The cellar was believed to be the inspiration for one of Poe's most famous stories, "The Black Cat" which was written while he resided in that house. Traveling back upstairs you will find yourself in the exhbit and sales area again. Towards the back of the neighboring house there is a reading room available to you where you can read Poe's works and listen to audios of such celebrities as Christopher Walken, Iggy Pop, and Vincent Prince reciting Poe's most famous works.
Never be afraid to ask the park rangers or volunteers any questions of for assistance. For teachers, the Poe house offers a great options for student group tours. These tours are very educational and offer great activities for the kids!
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