The Edgar Allan Poe Cottage (or Poe Cottage) is the former home of American writer Edgar Allan Poe. It is located on Kingsbridge Road and the Grand Concourse in The Bronx, New York, a short distance from its original location, and is now in the northern part of Poe Park.
The cottage is a part of the Historic House Trust, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been administered by the Bronx County Historical Society since 1975, and is believed to have been built in 1797.
The Poe family – which included Edgar, his wife Virginia Clemm, and her mother Maria — moved in around May 1846 after living for a short time in Turtle Bay, Manhattan. At the time, Fordham was rural and was only recently connected to the city by rail. The cottage, which was then on Kingsbridge Road to the east of its intersection with Valentine Avenue, was small and simple: it had on its first floor a sitting room and kitchen and its unheated second floor had a bedroom and Poe’s study. On the front porch the family kept caged songbirds. The home sat on 2 acres (8,100 m2) of land and Poe paid either $5 rent per month or $100 per year. Its owner, John Valentine, had bought it from a man named Richard Corsa on March 28, 1846, for $1000.
The family seemed to enjoy the home, despite its small size and minimal furnishings. “The cottage is very humble”, a visitor said, “you wouldn’t have thought decent people could have lived in it; but there was an air of refinement about everything.” A friend of Poe’s years later wrote: “The cottage had an air of taste and gentility… So neat, so poor, so unfurnished, and yet so charming a dwelling I never saw. In a letter to a friend, Poe himself wrote: “The place is a beautiful one.” Maria wrote years later: “It was the sweetest little cottage imaginable. Oh, how supremely happy we were in our dear cottage home!” Poe’s final short story, “Landor’s Cottage”, was likely inspired by the home.
“The north wing, I now saw, was a bed-chamber, its door opened into the parlor. West of this door was a single window, looking toward the brook. At the west end of the parlor, were a fireplace, and a door leading into the west wing- probably a kitchen.
Nothing could be more rigorously simple than the furniture of the parlor. On the floor was an ingrain carpet, of excellent texture- a white ground, spotted with small circular green figures. At the windows were curtains of snowy white jaconet muslin: they were tolerably full, and hung decisively, perhaps rather formally in sharp, parallel plaits to the floor- just to the floor. The walls were prepared with a French paper of great delicacy, a silver ground, with a faint green cord running zig-zag throughout. Its expanse was relieved merely by three of Julien’s exquisite lithographs a trois crayons, fastened to the wall without frames. One of these drawings was a scene of Oriental luxury, or rather voluptuousness; another was a “carnival piece,” spirited beyond compare; the third was a Greek female head- a face so divinely beautiful, and yet of an expression so provokingly indeterminate, never before arrested my attention.
The more substantial furniture consisted of a round table, a few chairs (including a large rocking-chair), and a sofa, or rather “settee;” its material was plain maple painted a creamy white, slightly interstriped with green; the seat of cane. The chairs and table were “to match,” but the forms of all had evidently been designed by the same brain which planned “the grounds;” it is impossible to conceive anything more graceful.
On the table were a few books, a large, square, crystal bottle of some novel perfume, a plain ground- glass astral (not solar) lamp with an Italian shade, and a large vase of resplendently-blooming flowers. Flowers, indeed, of gorgeous colours and delicate odour formed the sole mere decoration of the apartment. The fire-place was nearly filled with a vase of brilliant geranium. On a triangular shelf in each angle of the room stood also a similar vase, varied only as to its lovely contents. One or two smaller bouquets adorned the mantel, and late violets clustered about the open windows.”
From Landor’s Cottage (Allan Edgar Poe)
During the Poe family’s time in the cottage, Virginia struggled with tuberculosis. Family friend Mary Gove Nicholls wrote: “One felt that she was almost a disrobed spirit, and when she coughed it was made certain that she was rapidly passing away.” Virginia died in the cottage’s first floor bedroom on January 30, 1847. She was buried in the vault of the Valentine family on February 2. Poe died a couple of years later on October 7, 1849, while in Baltimore. At Fordham, Maria did not hear of his death until October 9, after he was already buried. Shortly thereafter, she moved out of the cottage to live with a family in Brooklyn for a time.
Edgar Allan Poe Cottage in recent years
In 1962, Poe’s Cottage was designated a landmark in The Bronx, and in 1966 it was recognized by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. In 1974, vandals struck, leading to further criticism of the Cottage’s management and preservation efforts.
Vandalism continued to occur over the next few years, though it tapered off by the end of the following decade, becoming less of a risk due in part to the increased use of live-in caretakers. In the late 1990s, the cottage was under the care of a graduate student in philology who lived in the basement.
In 2007, the proposed Visitors Center for the Cottage and Bronx Historical Society in Poe Park was honored by the New York City Art Commission’s 2007 Design Awards.