Sunday, December 26, 2010

Day 270/365 Oldest House in Richmond

So driving through Richmond the other day we stopped to look at this 18th century house and found this beautiful courtyard.

The little stone house came complete with window boxes, with ravens perched on the front...

And dead flowers left laying in the courtyard.

Know where we are yet? No?

Here's a hint:

"All that we see or seem..... Is but a dream within a dream."

Still no? It's the oldest house in Richmond, probably built in 1737 (read the sign)...more importantly eventually bequeathed to the Edgar Allen Poe Foundation and now home to the Poe Museum.

Poe's foster family raised him in Richmond, and he last visited here two weeks before his untimely death at the age of 40 in 1849. Turns out, contrary to popular rumor, Edgar was not a drunkard - he actually had difficulty consuming much more than a half glass of wine, and that usually sent him to his bed with massive headaches. The exact circumstances of his death in Baltimore are still a mystery - he fell to his knees on a public sidewalk (in front of a tavern),
"in great distress, and... in need of immediate assistance". His foster family refused to acknowledge him. His physician assumed custody and provided care. Edgar was never coherant long enough to explain what led to his condition, or why he was wearing clothes that did not belong to him. He died 5 days later.

After his death, an obituary appeared in a New York paper. It's opening line: "Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it." The unauthorized obituary would be followed by an equally unauthorized biography by the same author. The author turned out to be Poe's chief critic, a man with a long-held grudge. Somehow he ended up being Poe's literary executor, and he viciously painted Poe as a depraved madman, addicted to alcohol and drugs, even producing forged letters and diaries. That image turned out to be great for sales of Poe's macabre stories.

Except none of it was true.

To vilify a great man is the readiest way in which a little man can himself attain greatness. (Edgar Allan Poe)


  1. What beautiful photos and what a sad story.

  2. I have heard that it is believed he may have died from rabies.