Literary Landmarks: Edgar Allan Poe’s Cottage

Cincopa video hosting solution for your website. Another great product from Cincopa Send Files.

Literary Landmarks is a series that invites YPGers to visit a place of literary significance in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, or San Francisco.

A few things come to mind when thinking of Edgar Allan Poe: poetry, “The Raven,” mystery, beating hearts under floorboards… but the Bronx? And yet it’s true. Add it to the list, because NYC can claim a small part of this Great American Writer’s history. Poe spent the last three years of his life in a small cottage in the Bronx, and that cottage is still there and can be visited by Poe fans today.

Poe's Cottage_01

Poe moved to Fordham Village in 1846 with his wife and mother-in-law, hoping that the country air would help ease his wife’s tuberculosis. (The Bronx was rural back then and the air quality wasn’t yet lethal.) His wife ended up dying, and Poe’s rather mysterious death followed two years later. The cottage survived the passing years, but just barely. It was in the hands of a dentist for a while (who— get this—used it as his dental office! The nerve!) and in 1913 was saved from demolition by the New York Shakespeare Society, which raised funds to move it across the street, where it now sits in the appropriately named Poe Park.

I had visions of a park filled with monuments, plaques, and quotes, but in reality this park has absolutely nothing to do with Poe. It’s a pretty standard park. There is a shiny new Visitor Center, but there isn’t much Poe related in there, either (minus a fake raven sitting near the window). It mainly houses the bathrooms and a few Bronx Historical Society pamphlets. Just skip that part and head straight to the cottage. There, you can buy your tickets. You can only walk through the cottage if you pay for the tour, which is the shortest tour ever since it’s a really small cottage.

Poe's Cottage_03

The tour guide will walk you through the rooms and give an annotated history of Poe’s life while he lived in the Bronx. There are a few authentic Poe items—his rocking chair, mirror, and bed—and the rest of the furniture are antiques appropriate to the time period. There’s a twenty-minute film on Poe’s life and literary career that concludes the tour, but you don’t necessarily have to stay for that if films bore you.

Poe's Cottage_04 Poe's Cottage_05

I’m not a crazy Poe fan or anything, but I was a lit major, and I have to admit it excited me to stand in the same room where Poe wrote “The Cask of Amontillado.” (On the very same floorboards!) Not only that, Poe’s Cottage is apparently the only public writer’s house in New York. Can you believe that? If you’re a Poe fan, this historical landmark isn’t to be missed. And even if you aren’t, learning about one of the great minds that walked this city before us is a valuable experience all on its own.

Poe's Cottage_06

GRADES (on a 1-5 scale):

Fun: 2. Poe’s life wasn’t really fun. It’s only fitting that his cottage isn’t fun, either. I mean, his wife died in the back bedroom. In the bed that’s still there.

Cool Factor: 3. The tour guide was definitely cool (he was wearing a graphic raven tee). And it’s pretty cool to see this random preserved cottage in the middle of a bustling road in the Bronx.

Affordability: 3. $12 is a little steep for a tour of a four-room cottage, but hey, you gotta pay to experience   history.

NYC Experience: 4. To make it a day trip, visit the nearby Bronx Zoo or the New York Botanical Gardens. Head to Arthur Avenue (the Bronx’s Little Italy) for lunch.

Total: 12

Visit the Bronx Historical Society’s site to learn more about the location and visiting hours.

This article was contributed by YPG member Hannah Black. To learn more about Hannah, visit our Contributing Writers page.

Post to Twitter

Tags: , , , , ,

Comments are closed.