207 years ago today, one of The Bronx’s most notable residents was born—the poet Edgar Allan Poe who once lived in what was known as the Village of Fordham in what was once Westchester County.
The famed writer and poet, one of the most important in American history, moved to The Bronx when his wife Virginia became ill from tuberculosis and he thought the fresh country air would help her condition.
They moved into a cottage constructed in 1812 which still stands today on the Grand Concourse in Poe Park.
Below is an excerpt from The Smithsonian Magazine which published an article on Poe and Poe Cottage in the Bronx. It’s wonderful when a globally recognized cultural institution and national treasure like the Smithsonian writes about our borough’s rich and diverse history.
Read the excerpt below and follow the link to the full story!
When Edgar Allan Poe Needed to Get Away, He Went to the Bronx
The author of ‘The Raven’ immortalized his small New York cottage in a lesser-known short story
By Jimmy Stamp
JANUARY 28, 2014
Once upon a morning dreary, I left Brooklyn with eyes bleary, Wearily I took the subway to a poet’s old forgotten home.
In 1844, Edgar Allan Poe and his young wife Virginia moved to New York City. It was Poe’s second time living in the city and just one of many homes for the peripatetic author. Unfortunately, after two years and several Manhattan addresses, Virginia fell ill with tuberculosis. With the hope that country air might improve her condition, or at least make her final days more peaceful, Poe moved the family out to a small, shingled cottage in the picturesque woods and green pastures of Fordham Village – better known today as the Bronx.
The six-room cottage was built in 1812 as worker’s housing for farm hands. Poe rented it from landowner John Valentine for $100 per year – no small sum for the constantly struggling writer who sold The Raven, his most famous work, for a flat fee of $8. During his time at the cottage, Poe cared for his ailing wife, who died three years after they moved in, and wrote some of his most celebrated poems, including the darkly romantic “Annabel Lee”.
After Poe’s death in 1849, the cottage changed hands a few times and gradually fell in disrepair as the pastoral countryside became more and more urban. The area’s upper class residents came to see it as an eyesore and an obstruction to progress, and by the 1890s Poe’s house seemed destined for demolition. The growing controversy surrounding the cottage’s future was well-reported by The New York Times, which published a passionate article arguing in favor of preservation:
“The home of an author or a poet, whose memory has been marked for the honors that posterity alone confers, becomes a magnet for men and women the world over….The personal facts, the actual environment, the things he has touched and that have touched him are part of the great poet’s wonder-work and to distort them or to neglect them is to destroy them entirely.”