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Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site


Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site
© National Park Service
The Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site in
Philadelphia was once the home of Poe, his
wife and cousin Virgina Clemm, and
their cat Catterina.

Edgar Allan Poe is best known for his gripping tales of terror, but he also had a gift for romantic poetry. Visitors to the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site in Philadelphia can contemplate both sides of the talented writer as they explore one of the places where he lived and worked.

Of Poe's several homes in Philadelphia, only this small brick house on North Seventh Street remains. It is not known exactly how long he lived here, so it is difficult to say which stories he produced while living in this house. But it is likely he wrote, among others, "The Gold Bug," "The Fall of the House of Usher," and "The Murders in the Rue Morgue."

Because little is known about Poe's furniture and belongings, the Park Service has chosen to leave the house empty. Rather than point to artifacts, rangers discuss Poe's life and writings. Ranger-guided tours begin at the visitor center, which has exhibits, photographs of Poe's family, and an eight-minute slide presentation.

Poe was born in Boston in 1809 and raised by foster parents. When he was 22, Poe lost the support of his foster father, and from that time on he struggled to make a living. Poe was able to keep himself out of debt by selling stories and poems, and he eventually became the editor of a literary magazine, Southern Literary Messenger.

In 1836, Poe married his cousin Virginia Clemm and enjoyed his most productive years with her in Philadelphia. The couple, Virginia's mother, and their cat Catterina moved into this rental house in 1843.

Following Virginia's death in 1847, Poe's health began to disintegrate, and he died less than three years later in Baltimore of "acute congestion of the brain."

The First Mystery Writer

Poe is credited with being the inventor of the modern detective mystery. In 1841, he published "Murders in the Rue Morgue," which features an intelligent but eccentric detective, Cesar A. Dupin, who systematically solves crimes using rational thinking, or what Poe called "ratiocination."

This detective, who appears again in "The Purloined Letter" and "The Mystery of Marie Roget," is the unmistakable ancestor of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot, and Earl Stanley Gardener's Perry Mason.

Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site Information

Address: 313 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA
Telephone: 215/597-8780
Hours of Operation: Wednesday through Thursday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. except Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day, and Veteran's Day
Admission: Free

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Eric Peterson is a Denver-based author who has contributed to numerous guidebooks about the Western United States.


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