The Old Stone House located at 1914 East Main Street, near Shockoe Bottom, is Richmond’s oldest known structure. It was built around 1750. Perhaps much more significant than that to the rest of the world is the fact that it is also home to the memorabilia and artifacts of the gifted poet, horror short story writer, and Richmond resident, Edgar Allan Poe. The Poe Museum was established in 1922 to honor Poe’s life in Richmond and as a tribute to his literary contribution to the world.
Richmond lays claim to quite a few literary notables, including Ellen Glasgow, Tom Wolfe, and Patricia Cornwell. However, no one else creates such a thoughtful pause as Edgar Allan Poe. Through much of his work, Poe’s writing gifts demonstrated his mastery of effectively illustrating the macabre, suspense, and terror with intelligence, wit, and the use of beauty in language. He is an inspiration to many writers within the genre to date.
Poe was born in Baltimore in 1809 and raised in Richmond by the Allan family following his mother’s death in 1811. John Allan was an owner of Ellis & Allan, a mercantile shop in downtown Richmond. As a young man,
Poe attended Monumental Episcopal Church (now known as Monumental Church) with the Allans. It is believed that Poe’s strained relationship with Allan may have served as the muse for his works.Many of his stories mirror the intellectual and psychological experience of his youth and are carried through calculating and unhinged characters. He was reared in a large downtown Richmond home called Moldavia, which is also believed to have served as a form of inspiration, as many of his tales feature a mansion filled with gloom, madness, and events of a mentally spiraling nature.
The opposite of his maniacal expressions through prose was pronounced hopeless romanticism in verse. Three of his most beloved poems, including “Annabel Lee” and even “The Raven” are presumed to have been inspired by women of Richmond with whom he was known to have been involved.
The plan to use The Old Stone House as a museum was supported and funded by local historians, Mr. and Mrs. Archer Jones. The house possesses its own interesting piece of history. Poe’s connection to it may have been stemmed from his duty, around 1824, as a color guard escort to France’s Marquis de Lafayette during a visit to the Ege family, the original owners of the house. During the Revolutionary War, approximately fifty years earlier, Lafayette had stayed there as he worked to help Washington defeat the British. Other than that, there is no other association known between Poe and the house. However, commemoration of his works and time spent in the city was desired.
Remarkable thought went into the development of the museum and grounds. The Old Stone House is a small portion. By incorporating various items connected to Poe’s life to the museum, the grounds were expanded as a unique, heartfelt, nostalgic dedication towards his work on his craft and his life in Richmond.
The Old Stone House, which features the gift shop, contains the original heart-of-pine floors and a uniquely designed fireplace. The first leg of the self-directed tour in the House introduces the visitor to Poe and his family. The short walk to the Model Building reveals a stunning model of an early-to-mid 19th-century Richmond, complete with painstakingly created miniature houses and labels as they pertained to Poe’s lifetime. The minutest details of the model are so convincing, they constructively pull the visitor into the past. Featured are models of many of Richmond’s landmarks along with homes that are significant to Poe’s life, such as Elmira Shelton’s home – the woman to whom he was once engaged.
The Enchanted Garden – a peaceful courtyard with an engaging fountain – was designed in 1921 to resemble the garden in his poem, “To One in Paradise”. At the north end of the garden is the Poe Shrine, where a copy of Poe’s bust from the Bronx Historical Society sits. Bricks and granite rescued from the demolition of the Southern Literary Messenger, a local magazine where Poe had worked and practiced his craft prior to his fame, are used in the shrine and throughout the garden.
In the Elizabeth Arnold Poe Memorial Building, named in honor of his mother, many dynamic aspects of his literary self are displayed, including his desk from the Southern Literary Messenger. Also safely stored and displayed is the staircase from the first Allan home in which he lived. Several of Poe’s wares displayed in this building demonstrate his fine aesthetic tastes.
The last stop of the self-directed tour is the Exhibits Building. Most of those artifacts bring a more modern-day connection to Poe with the exhibit of film adaptations to his work. Included is an impressive letter displayed on behalf of Universal Pictures’ president, Carl Laemmle, asking that photo stills from the 1932 hit, Murders in the Rue Morgue, be added to the Poe Collection.
In 1849, at the age of forty, Poe died in Baltimore about two weeks after leaving Richmond for a brief stay. Even though he is buried in Baltimore, his life remains immortal here in Richmond with each piece that represents him, his contribution to the world he provided, and his life as a Richmonder in that charming Old Stone House and its grounds.
The museum features special events throughout the year, most notably in October, since Poe is usually synonymous with Halloween. Any time would make a great family outing to learn more about Poe’s era in the city. Make your plans to visit soon. Ticket prices range from $6 to $8.
Sunday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Tuesday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Wednesday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Thursday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Reposted from my blog, "Front Porch, Sweet Tea, and A Pile of Books".
Standing high within the beauty of Byrd Park in Richmond’s West End, visible from various driveways of the city, is the Commonwealth of Virginia’s first memorial to Virginians who served in World War I: The Carillon. An illustrious landmark, this campinale is a beloved gathering area for local residents and visitors.
In 1924, several years after the end of the First World War, the General Assembly formed the World War Memorial Commission to determine the best way to honor those men and women. The City of Richmond donated an area of Byrd Park, located at the southern end of Blanton Avenue. After a lot of public discussion, which changed the initial proposal, construction on the tower began in 1931. It was completed in 1932.
On October 15, 1932, The Carillon was formally dedicated to the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Ralph Adams Cram, a noted Boston architect, had designed the structure, which stands at 240 feet. Cram was a favorite architect to the city, as he had also designed several buildings at the University of Richmond, which featured his trademark Gothic style. The bell instrument was designed by Taylor’s Bell Foundry, the world’s largest bell foundry. Known at the time of The Carillon’s construction as John Taylor Bellfounders Ltd, this company also cast Great Britain’s largest bell in St. Paul’s Cathedral of London.
At set intervals, the bells chime melodic patriotic hymns which sound throughout the park. Concerts at the Carillon usually take place on patriotic holidays, such as Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, Flag Day and Labor Day. Most notably is the Fourth of July celebration with fireworks and the Richmond Concert Band. In the spring, the Carillon Civic Association hosts the renowned “Arts in the Park”, which helps to introduce the work of many national artists and artisans to the area.
The tower is a welcoming presence in the park and to its neighborhood residents. At the edge of a grass mall are crepe myrtles donated by the James River Garden Club. Other trees line the mall and the long, brick walkway. Quaint marble benches commemorate the gesture of 1937.
Prominently and sacredly featured is the grand star leading to the front of the Carillon which was laid in honor of the Gold Star Mothers. Their sons and daughters served from 1917 to 1918.
Visitors are welcome to climb the steps of the tower. Once visitors get closer, they will notice the ornate cast of the Virginia seal. Those marble steps lead to the imposing balcony which provides a dramatic panoramic view of the park and neighborhood. Lined by a stylish balustrade, the balcony allows one to take in the striking details much more closely as well as the opportunity to rest and take in the breathtaking view of the park from one of the benches along the walls.
Behind the tower is the Ha’Penny Stagewhere movies and plays are held. Also, next to the tower is the beloved Dogwood Dell Amphitheatre, where many concerts and plays are performed. After World War II, the annual Christmas production of “The Nativity” began on the steps of The Carillon; each year it is held on December 23rd at 7:00 p.m.
This coming Fourth of July, bring your picnic basket, blanket, and/or folding chairs and enjoy the Independence Day celebration, featuring music by the Richmond Concert Band and fireworks, all for free! Events begin at 6:00 p.m.
Reposted from my blog, "Front Porch, Sweet Tea, and A Pile of Books".
I've fallen in love with a local moviehouse! The Criterion Cinemas at Movieland in the bustling Scott's Addition neighborhood of Richmond, provides the coziest movie-watching experience, short of your own home! Just across the parking lot from its larger sister cinema, Bow Tie Cinemas at Movieland, which features most of the mainstream films, Criterion showcases four primarily independent and foreign films at a time, in small, comfy viewing areas.
As soon as you walk in, just mere steps away from the door is the concession stand with all kinds of movie goodies! The popcorn smelled wonderful!
Recently we went to see The Wife, based upon the short 2003 novel by Meg Wolitzer. Glenn Close should finally get that Oscar we've all been waiting for her to receive. I read the book several years ago and I wondered just how they would handle the spectacular twist of the story and boy, did they!
My thoughts on the book are here as posted on Goodreads, some time ago. No spoilers there at all!!!
Unfortunately, The Wife has left, so it will be on DVD or streaming on your favorite site soon. Be sure to check it out. In the meantime, if you're a fan of independent and foreign films, stop by Criterion Cinemas at Movieland for a lovely time. Right now, Tea with the Dames starring Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Joan Plowright, and Dame Eileen Atkins is showing, along with Colette with Keira Knightly. The already-acclaimed period piece, Can You Forgive Me? with Melissa McCarthy will be featured there later this year.
Criterion Cinemas at Movieland, 1331 North Boulevard, Richmond, VA 23230
Movies and Showtimes