Poe Cottage in NYC park to undergo renovation

July 5, 2008 5:18:40 PM PDT
It was many and many a year ago in a cottage in the Bronx where Edgar Allan Poe lived his last years and wrote some of his classic pieces. Long a tourist attraction, the small five-room building will soon give visitors an even better sense of Poe's final years with a planned renovation and the construction of a visitor center.

"This is going to be the first complete restoration," said Abigail Lootens, director of communications for the Historic House Trust.

Work is expected to start in the spring and last a year. The cottage will be closed to the public during the work. The restoration will cost about $250,000.

Poe and his wife moved to the cottage, which at that time was far from the hustle and bustle of the city, in hopes that life there would help with her tuberculosis. It didn't - she died there in 1847.

Poe, who had already become known for "The Raven," wrote some of his other classic works there, like "Annabel Lee" - "It was many and many a year ago, in a kingdom by the sea ..." - and "The Bells."

He stayed there after his wife's death, but died on a trip to Baltimore in 1849.

Poe Cottage, managed by the Bronx Historical Society, was moved to its current site in 1913, just across the street from its original spot.

The cottage draws thousands of people every year. "People were drawn to the house because Poe was such a draw for people," she said.

Construction already is under way on a visitor center, and that $4.2 million project is expected to be completed in a year.

The center has been designed to evoke Poe's poem "The Raven," said Parks Department Commissioner Adrian Benepe. The roof is in an upraised V shape and gray shingles will be used on the outside walls, the effect meant to make the viewer think of the bird.

Benepe calls the historic homes "touchstones to the past."

"They're living passports to the past that allow visitors, particularly schoolchildren, to step back," he said.