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Edgar Allan Poe House – National Historic Site

Posted on Wednesday, August 22, 2018

“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” -- Poe

“The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?” -- Poe

“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.” -- Poe

Mural of Edgar Allan Poe in Philadelphia

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Master of the Macabre

Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849) is known as the “Master of the Macabre,” the Stephen King of his day, and the forerunner to many other modern horror writers.  Poe is regarded as the father of the modern detective story (“Murders in the Rue Morgue”), and he created or was instrumental in shaping the modern genres of mystery, horror and science fiction.

Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts and orphaned as a young child.  He attended the University of Virginia briefly, and he also enlisted in the U.S. Army as a young man before deciding to become an author. Poe’s work led to him to travel up and down the East Coast, and Poe spent time in various cities including New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

Although Poe was respected in his time as a literary critic and his poem “The Raven” was widely published, there was not much money in being an author in Poe’s lifetime, and few people worked as an author for their sole means of income. Copyright infringement was rampant in Poe’s time, and Poe only received payment for a small fraction of the many copies of “The Raven” that were sold. Due to this, Poe struggled financially throughout his entire life.

Poe also struggled personally as well. At the age of 26, Poe married his first cousin Virginia, who was only 13 years old at the time. Virginia would succumb to a lengthy bout of tuberculous when she was only 24 years old, and watching her slow descent into death was very difficult on Poe. It is also believed that Poe suffered from mental illnesses, depression and alcoholism. Poe would eventually die at the age of 40 in Baltimore, Maryland. Poe was subsequently interred in Westminster Burial Ground in Baltimore, Maryland; his cause of death was unknown.

Despite Poe’s struggles, he created a prolific collection of work that spanned every imaginable genre and writing style. Poe’s writing has been described as dark, macabre, horrifying, ahead of its time, creative and brilliant. As a result, Poe has attracted a global audience for his work, which still resonates with people today.

The Edgar Allan Poe House in Philadelphia

Poe in Philly (1838-1844)

Poe first came to Philadelphia in 1829, and he stayed at the former Indian Queen Hotel (15 S. 4th Street). Later on, Poe moved to Philadelphia with his wife, Virginia. 

In spite of extraordinary bad luck, personal demons and his wife’s tragic illness, Poe exhibited amazing grit and resilience that enabled him to have his most productive 6 years of his career while he lived in Philadelphia.

In 1838, Poe resided near 16th & Locust, and gathered with other writers at the old Falstaff Hotel on 6th Street near Chestnut Street. Poe then lived around 2502 Fairmount Street, and moved into his most famous home at 234 N. 7th Street in 1843. In 1849, Poe stayed with his friend, John Sartain, at 728 Sansom Street. At that time, Poe is said to have looked suicidal, spoke of gruesome hallucinations of his mother-in-law being dismembered, and other terrifying tales.

The Edgar Allan Poe House (1843-1844)

The Edgar Allan Poe House is one of the former residences of Edgar Allan Poe. Located at 234 N. 7th Street, the Edgar Allan Poe House is his most famous residence in the city of Philadelphia.

Today, the Edgar Allan Poe house is a National Historic Site maintained by the National Park Service that is free and open to the public.

Edgar Allan Poe lived in this red brick home for about one year on 7th Street with his wife, Virginia, and his mother-in-law, Maria Clemm. During that time, Poe wrote “The Black Cat”, which describes a basement frightfully familiar to the one on 7th Street.

The Edgar Allan Poe House in Philadelphia on the Right

Charles Dickens & The Raven

In 1842, while Charles Dickens was touring Philadelphia, Poe met with Dickens at the United States Hotel at 4th & Chestnut Streets. Poe and Dickens discussed literature and the need for an international copyright law to protect the creative works and rights of all authors. 

Poe and Dickens also discussed Dickens’ pet raven named Grip. Dickens had previously authored a book entitled “Barnaby Rudge,” which Poe had reviewed as part of his job as a literary critic. Dickens had included Grip as a character in “Barnaby Rudge”, and Poe had been very complimentary of Dickens’ description of the raven. It was not long after this meeting that Poe published his most famous work, “The Raven.”  It is believed that Dickens’ raven Grip was the inspiration for the poem.

Today, you can see the raven that inspired the writings of two of the greatest authors of 19th Century right here in Philadelphia. After Grip died, he was stuffed, and Grip is on display in the Rare Books Department of the main branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

A Sculpture of a Raven next to The Edgar Allan Poe House in Philadelphia

Walnut Street Theatre

The Walnut Street Theatre at 8th & Walnut produced a short play based on Poe’s mystery story, "The Gold Bug”.

Morning on the Wissahickon

Poe seemed to have a fond affection for walking along the Wissahickon Creek, which suggests that he was inspired by his walks when he wrote “Morning on the Wissahickon.”

Operating Hours (Limited)

Friday-Sunday: 9AM-12PM, and 1PM-5PM
Closed: Monday-Thursday

Insider Information

If you are interested in learning more about Edgar Allan Poe, you should take our evening tour, the Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour!  On the Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour we’ll tell you about Poe’s life in Philadelphia and share with you one of his most terrifying tales.

How to Get There

The Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site is very conveniently located to the National Constitution Center where The Constitutional Walking Tour starts and ends. The Edgar Allan Poe house is just 0.6 mile away from the Constitution Center.  Head North on 6th Street towards Callowhill, make a left on Callowhill heading West and make a right on 7th Street heading North. Walk towards Spring Garden, and the Edgar Allan Poe house is located at 7th & Spring Garden.

Additional Information

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site
532 N. 7th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123
215.965.2305

Visit the Spirits of 76 Ghost Tours