On the corner of 7th and Spring Garden streets sits a domicile that goes largely unnoticed.
It is a national historic landmark rich in literary history – and possibly paranormal activity. Upon my arrival at the house, I looked at it in fear. Its dull, gloomy appearance made me wonder which remnants of Poe still roam the floors. Once I entered the dwelling, I was allowed a self-guided tour.
I slowly traversed each room, getting a feel for what could be lingering. The house remains empty, its condition visibly deteriorating, and I was reminded of the stories I had heard of ghosts within.
Stories such as a woman in a purloin dress sitting in the reading room, or screams coming from Virginia Poe’s room where she lay ill with tuberculosis – and may have even died in.
Could Virginia Poe’s spirit still inhabit the room in which she spent her final days? As I walked into her room, I envisioned her bursting through the doorway like Madeline
Usher does in “The Fall of the House of Usher.”
Suddenly a cold chill swept my body – I believed at that moment that she was with me. Walking through the house was already frightening enough, but being alone and approaching Edgar Allen Poe’s bedroom gave me an entirely new definition of fear. The only light filling the room came from a small window. Its cracked walls and creaking floor were enough to make anyone question why they were there.
What might Poe have thought of when he sat in this room? And who or what still inhabits it?
The final stage of my self-guided tour brought me into the infamous basement. I say “infamous” because this is where many believe Poe wrote “Black Cat.” A terrifying tale of murder and guilt, the short story is considered one of Poe’s most underrated works.
A giant hole in the wall made me wonder if it inspired his concept of having the narrator’s dead wife cemented into the basement wall. As I surveyed the basement I once again felt a chill brush up against me. The old staircase made a creaking sound, but no one was on it. Something was definitely in my presence in the basement. Could it have been Poe himself? I don’t know. Maybe it was previous occupier of the house, or maybe it was just my imagination.
The park ranger on duty told me that he had personally never seen an apparition or heard anything out of the ordinary, but he did say that everyone who visits the house has a different experience.
In order to better appreciate the house, it’s important to be familiar with Poe’s work, such as, “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Pit and the Pendulum” and even “A Tell Tale Heart.” Knowing his work creates a much more horrifying environment within the house’s walls. The Poe House undoubtedly has secrets. It is hard to believe that a place which sheltered
“The Father of American Horror,” as Stephen King described Poe, would not have something hidden. Even if it isn’t Poe’s spirit that inhabits the residence, the very idea that he once penned some of his most sinister stories in the house is enough to send chills down your spine.
A verse from “The Raven,” arguably Poe’s greatest contribution to American literature, sums up my sentiments while meandering through the abode.
“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dreamed before.”
Dan Cappello can be reached at email@example.com.