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Edgar Allan Poe Bicentennial Celebrated

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site

National Park News

The park held a four-day celebration of Edgar Allan Poe’s 200th birthday in mid-January. The writer was born on January 19, 1809.

On Friday, January 16th, a capacity crowd of 175 gathered in a neighboring building for a special exhibit preview and reception hosted by the Friends of Poe. Superintendent Cindy MacLeod welcomed everyone and spoke of Poe’s six years in Philadelphia, his most productive period. “The Black Cat,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” are just a few works Poe wrote in Philadelphia. 

The evening included the unveiling of the official Poe bicentennial poster, created by a student from the Art Institute of Philadelphia.  Nine students competed and the top three finalists were awarded cash prizes. Eastern National sells the poster.  There was a short play with a younger and older Poe, who debated “their” greatest creations – poetry, horror stories, inventing the detective story, science fiction and criticism.  Poe site staff wrote and starred in this special performance.  Later park rangers gave guided tours of the new exhibits.

Since few records of Poe’s personal belongings exist, the park did not refurnish the historic house he lived in.  Large, full-color art sketches were commissioned on fabric panels to help visitors imagine how the Poe family would have used the rooms.

Visitors to the site learn about “The Many Sides of Genius” through exhibits, a short film and the tour of his original house.   Exhibit panels interpret Poe’s life and times (1809-1849), his body of work, and his influence on literature and popular culture.  A large head of Poe with many interactive features illustrates Poe’s creativity.  Open a drawer; solve the cryptogram and the drawer reveals a “gold bug”!

The Harpers Ferry Design Center was the project manager for the exhibits. All of the exhibits, as well as the AV programs, are audio described for people with visual impairments and the audio sections are reproduced in written form, with open captions on the film.      

The site officially reopened at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 17th, after a six-week temporary closure to install the new exhibits.  At 2:00 p.m., poet, author and Poe scholar Daniel Hoffman gave a wonderful lecture on Poe’s influence on modern women writers. On Monday, January 19th, Poe’s actual 200th birthday, the site welcomed more Poe fans, who came to pay their respects.

The site is now open Wednesday through Sunday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.   

For more information on the site or Poe Bicentennial events visit:     


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