Right up the road from us in Haymount stands the Museum of the Cape Fear Complex. Encompassing more than four acres, the complex contains the 1897 Poe House, the Museum of the Cape Fear, and the Fayetteville Arsenal. I’m basically obsessed with the place – especially the Poe House. It reminds me of the grand Victorians of downtown Wilmington. When I drove past a few weeks ago and spotted it all decked out for Christmas, I had to stop in for a tour!
The History of the 1897 Poe House
Edgar Allan Poe was born in 1858 to Fayetteville businessman John Cooper Poe. At 22, he married Josephine Montague and started his own business, the E. A. Poe Brick Company. Poe had the manufacturing facility built at the bottom of Haymount Hill. It produced everything from bricks and tiles to clay pipes and pottery.
By 1896, with his growing family and accumulating wealth, Poe found the need for a new home. He hired Ruffin Vaughn to build a Victorian-style kit house at the top of Haymount Hill. The grand home features a two-tiered wrap-around porch, intricate detailing, a central staircase, and Eastlake decorative elements.
Poe moved his wife and their eight living children into the house after its completion in 1897. He hired employees to assist Josephine with household duties and caring for the children. The home was built with these servants in mind, including small servant bedrooms and a staircase.
Poe lived out the rest of his days in the home. Passing in 1934, he was buried in Cross Creek Cemetery #2. Josephine lived for another 15 years, perishing in 1949.
Their daughter, Elizabeth “Lillie” Poe, inherited the house. She nominated the home to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and 1979; it was added to the list in 1983. Lillie sold Poe House to the state in 1987 to preserve her family’s legacy.
The home was restored to its original appearance and opened to the public as a museum in 1998.
More About The House
The rooms of the house branch off of center halls adorned with ornate dark wood. The downstairs features a parlor, living room, master suite, nursery, nanny’s room, dining room, and butler’s pantry. Upstairs are the children’s rooms, a bedroom for the cook, and a balcony.
There are still some Poe family pieces present in the home. Some artwork, the piano in the parlor, and the dining room furniture are all original. Otherwise, the decor represents the turn of the twentieth century in Southeastern North Carolina.
Like most homes of the period, the Poe house has a detached kitchen. This was for safety purposes to prevent the rest of the house from going up in flames should the kitchen catch fire.
In addition, the site includes a barn, woodhouse, and smokehouse.
The 1897 Poe House is open weekly from Tuesday through Sunday. Guided tours are given by volunteers, so every visit is unique. Even better? Admission is free. 😉