Quirky Attraction: Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site in Philadelphia

edgar allan poe mural philadelphia

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site
Location: Philadelphia, PA (532 N. 7th St.)
When to visit: Open Friday – Sunday (9am – 12pm and 1-5 pm)
Cost: Free
Time needed: 30-60 minutes
Website: www.nps.gov/edal/index.htm

Edgar Allan Poe, whom you surely know from such works as “Your High School English Class,” was perhaps America’s first tortured artist. He was kind of a miserable S.O.B. but left behind a vast collection of influential poetry.

Poe lived for several years in Philadelphia, and one of his houses has been preserved as the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site. This is an easy attraction to overlook when you’re in Philly, because you’ll certainly be checking out the Liberty Bell and the Ben Franklin-related attractions too. But don’t forget about old Eddy!

I originally wrote this post about the giant Edgar Allan Poe mural on the side of the building. But it’s worth focusing on the National Historic Site itself, since that will hold more interest for Poe enthusiasts.

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site: Hours, Location, Exhibits

The Poe site has extremely limited hours. As of 2019, it’s only open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm each day. And it actually closes between noon and 1 pm for a lunch break.

So if you’re not in town on the weekend, you’ll miss out on going inside (though you can still view the exterior of the place.) The site is a full mile from Independence Hall and the other historic tourist attractions.

What will you see at the Poe site? Start with Poe’s actual house. The unfurnished home where he lived is on display. This is the only one of the five houses where Poe lived that has survived.

Poe lived in the home for a year and used to entertain fellow authors. But he wasn’t yet successful, and had actually filed for bankruptcy. So the house did not have a lot of grand furniture.

The house did have the word “death” carved into the wall above the kitchen. How classy! It’s unknown whether Poe did that himself or if it happened later. The home had no electricity or running water. We often forget that those ultra-famous people of the past didn’t have these modern creature comforts.

Poe had a small writing room that he worked in. He may have slept there too, since his wife had tuberculosis at the time, which would have been contagious. He wrote and published the story “The Black Cat” while he lived here.

The Reading Room in the adjacent house sometimes holds readings of Poe’s works. You can request a guided tour of the Poe National Historic Site, or you can wander around on your own.

The Edgar Allan Poe Mural

As noted earlier, the Poe mural can be found up the street from the Historic Site, at N. 7th and Spring Streets. It’s a very cool thing to see on the corner of the street. It’s located near a housing project and is most definitely “off the beaten path,” if that sort of thing bothers you. It’s not everyday you see a giant mural of a weird-looking dude with a silly moustache on an inner city wall!

Oh, and the house has a raven outside, in honor of his poem “The Raven.” Poe fans will want to check this place out!

edgar allan poe national historic site hours raven

While you’re in Philly, don’t forget to check out Philadelphia Magic Gardens, the Rocky statue, and the elevator to the top of City Hall!

10 thoughts on “Quirky Attraction: Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site in Philadelphia”

  1. Poe’s expression is not miserable at all, though it might be described a rather “pinched.” It’s a little dour, much like an expression you might find on the face of one of the Founding Fathers. We like the lean string bean of a rammy lad reaching up with his arms to touch–or massage–the lower part of Poe’s chin.

  2. Haha I know this mural. I’m from Philly and the city is full of great ones. There are actually a lot of mural tours that are definitely worth doing if you’ve got a few days in the City of Brotherly Love.

  3. I visited this place two years ago. The house is almost empty,and this gives an atmosphere to the place that other museums lack. I loved every minute of it. I had my picture taken by the mural,and I don’t find Poe’s expression miserable at all. It captures his genius perfectly.

    1. Great response. I’m sure there are many sympatico people ~ cynics ~ who appreciate the man and his works.

      btw, I just retired end of January and might find some of quirky’s info helpful in planning a small bit of travel.

      Anything quirky on Georgia, as I have 3 cyber-friends I might drop in on…?

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