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Edgar Allen Poe’s home in the Bronx to be restored

 

Edgar Allen Poe’s home in the Bronx to be restored

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Poe Cottage, the Bronx home of writer Edgar Allan Poe, will close this winter for restoration

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A new, $3.2 million visitor center, seen in an artist’s conception, is slated to open in 2009.

There may not be ravens rapping at the door of Edgar Allan Poe’s final home in the Bronx.

But with a planned $250,000 fix-up and a new visitor center, thousands more tourists are expected to make the pilgrimage to Poe Cottage.

After two moves and years of being shaken by cars on the Grand Concourse and the nearby subway, the house of the famed poet and writer is in bad shape. Paint is peeling, the plaster is cracked and there are cobwebs on the rain-damaged windows.

Once restored, the house will have a fresh coat of paint, new green shutters, a ramp for the handicapped and, ideally, a projected increase of 6,000 tourists a year, said Kathleen McCauley, manager of the cottage in Poe Park, at the Concourse and Kingsbridge Road.

“It’s gone through a lot of transformations,” she said. “Poe would have liked that.”

The design of the new, $3.2 million, 2,000-square-foot visitor center was inspired by Poe’s poem, “The Raven.”

The slate shingles are meant to look like feathers, and the roof sweeps down like bird wings. The bathroom walls will have an abstract picture of Poe’s face.

Repairs and the visitor center are being funded by a combination of federal and city dollars and from donations to the Bronx Historical Society, which operates the facility. The city Parks Department owns it.

The visitor center is due to open in August 2009, while the cottage will be closed for repairs sometime this winter and reopened in 2010.

The cottage, where Poe spent the last years of his life and wrote “Annabel Lee,” “The Bells,” and “Eldorado,” now sees about 4,000 visitors annually.

“Sometimes they want to just sit and contemplate the aura of Poe,” McCauley said.

Tourists began to visit the house in 1872, just 23 years after Poe’s death. In 1923, the cottage had 25,000 visitors.

The two-story cottage has a kitchen, parlor and bedroom downstairs and a former bedroom upstairs, now used as a visitor center, with low ceilings and narrow stairs.

For the Poe family, the cottage was a $100-a-year country retreat, a place where Poe’s wife, Virginia, who suffered from tuberculosis, could enjoy the fresh air of what was then Westchester County.

She died in the cottage in 1847; Poe met his end in Baltimore two years later.

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