While in New York I wanted to visit all five Burroughs and to find something unique to do in each one. I was delighted when I discovered that Edgar Allan Poe had a cottage in New York that he lived in with his wife (and where she actually passed away) and his mother-in-law.
An avid reader I looked forward to visiting the place that the writer who penned the famous poem The Raven lived, and as I'd never heard of it before it did in fact feel like I'd made a discovery. The guide at the cottage said that they would get a lot more visitors if it was in Manhattan, and I'm sure he's right about that.
Upon entering you are in the kitchen of the cottage. There's a small desk that the tour guide uses but apart from that it isn't hard to picture yourself in a kitchen from that era, with the fireplace roaring and the combustion stove heating away. Don't expect a tour of The Ritz. Poe wasn't a wealthy man.
There are only three genuine articles in the cottage from Poe's day. There's an old cracked mirror, that if you look into hard enough you'll see Poe staring back at you. Go and try it if you don't believe me. Then there's Poe's rocking chair. This has been partly refurbished, and sadly but obviously you can't sit and have a rock in it yourself. The last thing that they believe is original is part of the bed in the small bedroom with the sloping roof. This is quite creepy actually, as it is the bed that Poe's wife died in. The whole reason the Poe family moved to Fordham (what the area was then known as) was because of his wife's illness. Poe hoped the country air would be good for and help rehabilitate her. Alas, it was not to be.
The tour is simple but enjoyable. Upstairs you watch a documentary that my partner thought was overkill and didn't feel was necessary. I didn't think it was essential viewing but I had no issue with it. It certainly helps to flesh out the tour a bit.
To get to the cottage you can take the Subway to The Bronx and the cottage is not far at all from the stop. The cottage now resides in Poe Park. It has been moved from its original position, where on a clear day Poe would have been able to see all the way to Long Island. It was moved in one piece so all the architecture is still intact.
Poe Cottage is a really good example of what a poorer family would have lived in during this part of history. There are many examples of the kinds of houses wealthier people called home but few survive for those of Poe's means. This just adds another facet to the visit.
I can understand that some people wouldn't like to visit here at all. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit but that's because I'm interested in the writer as a man, his work and also in seeing a part of history. However, even I found it a bit morbid to be standing in the room that his wife probably passed away in.
There was a family that were visiting at the same time as us and the children didn't seem to be enjoying themselves at all. As mentioned, there are some parts of the tour that are a bit morbid so perhaps it isn't the best thing for children. I'm sure there'd be some that would like it though.
The visit was an inexpensive way to spend a portion of a Sunday afternoon, to learn a bit more about Poe, his family and the time they lived in. I'd recommend it to anyone who's done all the typical tourist things, and wants to try something a bit different.