During his six years in Philadelphia, Poe lived in five different houses. Only this house survives. Just before moving here, Virginia, Edgar Allan Poe’s young wife, was diagnosed with tuberculosis. The family moved into this bright, airy house to help heal Virginia’s lungs. In addition to Edgar and Virginia, the household also included Virginia’s mother Maria Clemm, or “Muddy,” and a cat named Catterina.
The House Layout
This is where you enter the house. Notice the original flooring as you step down. The Poes would receive their guests here. Most of Poe’s friends were writers like himself. One of them, Mayne Reid, remembered, “In this humble domicile I can say that I have spent some of the pleasantest hours of my life.”
Muddy carried out most of the family’s domestic affairs, cooking, cleaning, and caring for her ailing daughter. She was described by Mayne Reid as “the ever-vigilant guardian of the house, watching it against the silent but continuous sap of necessity.”
Step up into the room on your right. On the far wall there was a window looking down onto the front yard and Seventh Street. Only two stoves were installed while the Poes lived here, one of them in this room. Because stoves are much better than fireplaces at keeping a room warm, we think frail Virginia slept here during the winter months.
Muddy slept near Virginia, whom she cared for. Devoted to Virginia and Edgar, she "served as messenger, doing the errands, making pilgrimages between the poet and his publishers..."
In Poe’s horror story, “The Black Cat,” the murderer confesses, “I had walled the monster inside the tomb” in the cellar. Poe published (and probably wrote) the story while he lived in this house. Take a close look at the false chimney. Could it be the inspiration for the "tomb" mentioned in "The Black Cat"?
ImagesSee images of the site in our photo gallery.
Last updated: December 31, 2017