Poe married his cousin Virginia when she was 13 in 1836. Shortly thereafter she contracted tuberculosis and became morbidly ill. In his attempt to help cure her, Poe decided to move to a cottage in the Bronx with hopes that the “fresh open air” would be her remedy. He moved into the cottage with his wife and his mother in law/aunt, Maria Clemm. Poe rented this cute little cottage (which is now a historic landmark) for $100 a year from 1846-1849. Built in 1812 by a man named John Wheeler, this cottage is the last remaining house from what was “the old village of Fordham.”
Unfortunately, poor Virginia lost her battle with life months after moving to the Bronx (Go figure.) It was here that Poe wrote some of his most famous poems including “Annabel lee”, “The Bells”, “The Cask of Amontillado” and “Eureka”. This cottage was both a curse and place of tranquility for Edgar Allan Poe. It was the place where he experienced periodic bouts of insanity, sadness and despair without his love. Despite his misfortune, Poe continued to live at the cottage until his own death in 1849.
I recently had the pleasure to visit the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage. Poe’s cottage in the Bronx had to be moved several Blocks North in 1913 in order to save the cottage from being destroyed with the widening of Kingsbridge during the re development of Fordham. It’s now in Poe park Located at 2640 Grand Concourse at East Kingsbridge Road in the Bronx, NY. Close by in Poe park and adjacent to the Poe cottage, is the visitor center designed to look like a Raven by the architect Toshiko Mori. If you ever have the chance, you should check it out. They offer free classes and workshops on a monthly basis, to the public.
What makes this place special and a legit reason for the Bronx to brag about, is the simple fact that this was Poe’s last residence and the final resting place of his beloved wife, Virginia. You want to hear a creepy fact people? The bed that she died in is still there, all dressed and adorned for her possible return. Walking into this cottage really brings you back in the past. It’s a creaky little home with not much room to wiggle about yet still has a cozy quaint feel in a macabre sort of way. It’s furnished with restorative pieces from that time and only a select few that survived from Poe’s cottage (like Virginias death bed.)
On Poes 100th birthday, a Bronze portrait bust was presented to Poe Park. Due to disrespectful moronic individuals who vandalized the statue shortly after it’s installation in Poe park, the statue had to be moved inside the cottage. Poor Poe never got the respect he deserved in life and now in death. Damned New York Savages!!! I should know, I dated a few…But really, all jokes aside, it’s worth the visit. It’s one of the few Poe residencies that’s open to the public. A lot of his former dwelling places are in cosmetic despair or privately owned and closed to the public.
The strangest part of his final days was what transpired prior to his passing. He was on his way back to his cottage in the Bronx from Virginia when he detoured to Baltimore, Maryland. On October 3, 1849 He was found severely wounded and beaten. He was taken in a carriage to the Washington University Hospital of Baltimore. The tattered, worn clothing he was found in, led the physician to believe he had been mugged and robbed. Poe was known to be an alcoholic yet, Ironically, he was observed not to be inebriated nor drinking beforehand. At one point he even rejected the brandy offered to him at the hospital.
During the days he spent at there, he was in and out of consciousness. His sentences were random and confusing. He mentioned the name “Reynolds” but nothing more followed aside from his last words which was a call to God asking for help for his “poor soul.” This made it very hard for anyone to understand what he was saying or determine an explanation for the mysterious death that followed him. The unique part of this story is how he died a few days later yet his physician could not determine a final cause of death. His death was labeled as “congestion of the brain”. Before his death, he was diagnosed with a heart problem and legions in his brain by other doctors.
To add another fact to this weird story was the history that follows. The hospital where Poe was kept and died is probably just as disturbing as his death. Just a few years after Poe passed away, the hospital underwent a turn of events due to their unsavory practices. Being there was like a chop shop with doctors practicing on the patients. It was so bad that the patients would rather die from their afflictions and diseases rather than suffer and succumb to the butchery from the practicing physicians.
In 1853, local residents made several attempts to set fire to the hospital. Apparently, the building had a history of body snatching and the locals weren’t having it. There were stories of people being kidnapped and taken to the building only to later end up on the dissection table. In 1855, The hospital lost the battle to stay running and was shut down. It was later bought and reopened in 1857 as a church hospital.
One can only think if the cottage was possibly cursed and secretly participated in taking the souls of both Poe and his wife? Farfetched? Perhaps…But hey, I’m a horror writer, what more would you expect from Slaughter Cin?
eapoe.org -Church Hospital (Site of Poe’s Death), 2009
NYCgovparks.org -EDGAR ALLAN POE AND THE HISTORIC POE PARK