He Lives On: Poe in the Bronx

By Stephanie De La Cruz

Bronx Journal Staff Writer

The landmark Edgar Allan Poe cottage in the Bronx is getting a $2 million face-lift.

The Bronx Historical Society says the restoration is long overdue for the 198-year-old cottage where Poe, the 19th century macabre writer, lived during the last three years of his life.

“When the house was built it was a totally different place,” said Angel Hernandez, the Historical Society’s Education Coordinator. “It was a farmland rivers and streams. It was a very bucolic environment.”

Poe is known for legendary dark stories, such as the Tell Tale Heart and the Raven. While he lived in the Bronx, he wrote two other of his classic short stories: The Cask of Amontillado and Annabel Lee.

Today this once bucolic area looks totally different. It is now home to a diverse residential and commercial community.

(Photo: Stephanie De La Cruz)

“Kingsbridge road variety stores are owned by people of different ethnic groups,” Hernandez says.  “It (the cottage) is the only reminder of a time when it was a village.”

The cottage is also known for being the deathbed of Poe’s beloved wife and first cousin, Virginia. “Edgar Allan Poe moved here in an effort to save his wife Virginia from tuberculosis, but unfortunately she died a year later, ” says Hernandez.

Poe moved to the Bronx from Manhattan with the hopes that the rural fresh air would help her overcome tuberculosis. Poe is said to have paced back and forth in front of his sickly wife as she lay in bed. However, she ended up succumbing to the disease, dying at the cottage after one year. Her deathbed remained on view at the cottage for many years.

Last month, restoration workers found some of Poe’s personal things on the western wall of the cottage. Among the artifacts were a baby shoe, a fork that dates back to the early 19th century, a couple of old nails, and a leather pouch.

“According to Edgar Allan Poe’s personal accounts, he really enjoyed living in the Bronx,“ Hernandez says. “He used to like taking walks to St. John’s University, which is now Fordham University.”

Some of the Poe artifacts are in the Bronx History museum. Other artifacts, such as kitchenware and some of his other items, were shipped off to Fort Totten in North Dakota.

The Bronx Historical Society hopes that the federal and city government, along with private donors, will raise $1 million to cover the costs of more exhibitions, tours, and educational programs.

One Response to He Lives On: Poe in the Bronx

  1. Sonia February 4, 2011 at 10:27 am

    This was most interesting. I ride the bus to Lehman every day and only in doing so, did I even know this place existed. I had always wanted to take a closer look but it appeared closed down. I love the work of Poe, specifically the two you mentioned above. It would be nice to had had a link to the poems, but nevertheless, I will look them up because I want to read them again. It was very interesting to hear about his beloved wife. It made me think of this verse:

    But our love was stronger by far than the love

    Of those who were older than we

    Of many far wiser than we

    And neither the angels in heaven above,

    Nor the demons down under the sea,

    Can ever dissever my soul from the soul

    Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.


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