“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”
― Edgar Allan Poe, Eleonora
The 1897 E. A. Poe house in Fayetteville, NC is part of the Cape Fear Museum complex in Haymount. This Poe, however, should not be confused with the Edgar Allan Poe, writer and poet of the mysterious and the macabre. While they share a name, that is where the similarity ends.
I’ve lived in Fayetteville for a very long time; twenty years this April, in fact. Yet somehow I managed to never visit the Edgar Allan Poe house in Fayetteville. Rather than doing the obligatory cleaning and laundry on one warm and sunny afternoon in January I decided to go to the Museum of the Cape Fear. This complex houses a museum, the 1897 Poe house, and the ruins of the U.S. Arsenal.
E. A. Poe, a Fayetteville native, was the owner of the successful E. A. Poe Brick Company, one of the largest brick makers in the area until 1943 when the plant closed.
The Poe House, constructed in 1897, was the home of Edgar Allan Poe, his wife Josephine Montague Poe, and their eight children. Constructed in a Victorian design, the home was a mail order house, outfitted with intricate designs, sweeping porches, detailed woodwork and a large central staircase.
Oddly enough, although Poe made his living by manufacturing brick, the house is of wooden construction. Mrs. Poe was intent on having a Victorian house with all the trimmings, and I imagine, like most husbands, Mr. Poe lived to make his wife happy so a wooden Victorian house was built for their family.
The outside is complete with all the gingerbread trimmings of a Victorian. When you enter the home you are greeted by dark, ornate woodwork in the center hall. To the right is the parlor, where the Poe’s received guests, held weddings, and funerals. The room on the left was the sitting room, a place for the family to gather to read, play games, or spend time together.
The home has generous sized bedrooms. The master bedroom was centrally located so the mistress of the house, Mrs. Poe, could over see the keeping of the house and the children. A nursery was located off the master bedroom and the nurse maid had a room off the nursery.
Upstairs, the girls shared a room as did the boys. The cook also had a room, although much smaller.
The Poe’s employed servants to assist with running the household. While the family used the large center staircase facing the front door, servants used the narrower back facing staircase to avoid being seen by visitors.
Like many kitchens of the time, the Poe house had a detached kitchen located at the back of the house. Should the kitchen catch fire, there was a good chance that the fire would not burn down the rest of the house. Unlike other houses, the Poe house had a covered breezeway linking the house to the kitchen.
The house was easily accessed by a door leading to the butler’s pantry. This is where food was held until served to the family in the formal dining room. Of all the rooms of the house, the dining room and butler’s pantry were my favorite.
On the property out back was another structure and a large “doll” house for the young girls to play. The Poe’s had eight children, six of which were girls. I imagine there were many an afternoon spent playing dolls in the tiny kid-sized house.
The yard at the Poe house connects with the footbridge that crosses the MLK Freeway to the remains of the U. S. Arsenal and the “ghost tower” on the grounds of the Arsenal Park.
The 1897 Poe House is a fun, off the beaten path place to visit in Historic Haymount in Fayetteville.