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March 9, 2020

“I am a Virginian.” Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Poe was born in 1809 in Boston, but considered Richmond his home and often referred to himself as “a Virginian.” Poe grew up, married and was first recognized as a gifted writer while living at his childhood home, Moldavia in Richmond. Few of the places he lived in still exist today, but the layout of Moldavia still exists in the form of a Mutual Assurance policy stored in the Library of Virginia archives.

Following his mother’s death from tuberculosis in 1811, Poe was taken in by John and Frances Valentine Allan. It was at his christening that he was given the name Edgar Allan Poe. The small family lived above Mr. Allan’s offices at 13th and Main Streets.

In 1825, when Poe was 16, Allan purchased “Moldovia,” a large house located at 5th and Main in Downtown Richmond. Allan insured this home with Mutual Assurance Society. There were 8 buildings on the lot that encompassed the entire block between 5th and 6th Streets, with the main house facing 5th Street. In 1829, Allan had a reevaluation of the home done with a policy amount of $11,075, a substantial amount at the time.

Poe worked for many years in Richmond as an editor for the Southern Literary Messenger. He lived in a boarding house on Bank Street near Capitol Square. It is here he wrote several novels and poems.

Following his wife’s death in 1847, Poe returned to Richmond for short stays in 1848 and 1849. He gave lectures and readings of his poems and gave his last reading of “The Raven” at “Talavera”, home to the Talley family on West Grace, on September 25, 1849. He died less than a month later in Baltimore on October 7th.

Poe’s Lawn room at the University of Virginia is still a popular tourist site, and the Poe Museum is made from materials salvaged from the offices of the Southern Literary Messenger where Poe worked.