Facing west, this two-story Dutch Colonial Revival style house is a central-passage plan structure with a gambrel roof, gambrel roof dormer on the facade, shed-roof dormer on the rear elevation, wraparound porch, and kitchen wing at the northeast corner. The foundation is brick. The central section of the rear elevation originally was a porch, which was enclosed. The one-story plus basement kitchen wing was constructed by 1913, but appears to have been rebuilt during the 1930s or 1940s on the same foundation as the original. During the restoration, the original weatherboard siding on the house was uncovered when aluminum siding was removed. The front porch has square posts, some in groups at the corners. The original solid, shingled balustrade was restored based on documentary photographs. Granite steps lead from the front walk onto the porch. The front door is double-leaf, with a wavy glass pane set within raised panels. There is an interior end brick chimney on the north side of the house. Most of the windows are one-over-one, with some being multi-light-over-one. A bay window extends onto the porch at the northwest corner. French doors are at the south end of the porch.
Inside, the grand central stair hall is flanked on the north and south by two rooms on either side, with the kitchen and enclosed porch area beyond the hall to the east. The entry stair hall is particularly notable for its finely crafted woodwork, apparently a showpiece for Poe since this was his own residence. This includes coffered ceilings, an oak staircase with an elaborate machined and hand-carved balustrade and newel posts, including a sand dollar motif, paneled wainscot, and beaded crown molding above doors. Ceilings in the stair hall are currently covered with beaver board, inset into a grid of boxed beams. Doors throughout the interior are typically five-panel, many with their original glass knobs. The doors to the sitting room/parlor at the northwest corner are currently multi-light, French doors, but evidence suggest that these were originally pocket doors. Floors in the stair hall and the sitting room/parlor of the first floor are oak, with the remainder of the floors in the house being pine. The sitting room/ parlor includes a sitting alcove at the northwest corner, which is set within the bay window extending out onto the front porch. The mantel in this room is classically inspired. The dining room, to the northeast, has a built-in corner cupboard that appears to be original, and variable width beaded board wainscot. The study, at the southwest corner of the first floor, has a simple mantel with raised paneling and detailing similar to the balusters in the stair hall and a beaded board wainscot. The room beyond this, at the southeast corner, was possibly a downstairs bedroom originally. A butler's pantry has built-in cabinetry.
The landing at the top of the grand staircase has a built-in window seat and the same variable width wainscot as used in the dining room. There are three bedrooms upstairs and a large laundry room. Elaborate crown molding defines the doorways.
The most significant aspects of the building are the form, plan, and interior woodwork including the staircase, mantels, and wainscot.
Poe and the Development of Lenoir
The town of Lenoir began in 1841 as the seat of the newly formed Caldwell County, which was carved from Burke and Wilkes counties. Located at James Harper's plantation and store, the county seat was named for a local politician, William Lenoir. The county sits at the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains and encompasses both mountains and broad arable valleys. The earliest white immigrants in the area settled in the fertile valleys of the Yadkin and Catawba Rivers. The county remained predominantly agricultural until the arrival of the furniture manufacturing industry in the twentieth century.
Growth of Lenoir was also slow until the arrival of the Chester & Lenoir Railroad in 1884, which boosted trade and industrial development. The first furniture company, Hickory Furniture, established a factory in Lenoir in 1889 (the company later reorganized into Lenoir Furniture in 1905), and the furniture industry brought a growth in population to Lenoir. By 1907, five furniture companies were established in Lenoir. The town quickly became the most industrialized in Caldwell County and brought people from outlying farms to the town for work. Between 1890 and 1902, the population of the town doubled. The industrial era also brought extensive rebuilding between the years of 1890 and 1920, often resulting in the loss of many residences to industrial buildings.
It was during this boom in 1893 that Edgar Allan Poe began his professional career in Lenoir, remaining in the town until his death in 1949. Poe, born in Dallas, North Carolina, was the son of the Reverend Edmund A. Poe and Elizabeth A. Corpening Poe Within a short time of beginning his work in Lenoir, Edgar Allan Poe began to enjoy prominence in the town. On October 28, 1897, Poe married Eugenia Maude Miller, who was from a well-known family in Caldwell County. The Millers arrived in the town of Lenoir from outlying areas of Caldwell County in the early 1890s and were known as a pioneering family. The Miller family bought property on North Main Street and built a house where Eugenia Maude lived until her marriage.
Once married, Poe built his first house in the same neighborhood as his in-laws on Scruggs Street. The Poe's two children, Eugene Allan and Carolyn Ransom, were both born in the house on Scruggs Street. In 1905, two years after their second child was born, the Poe family bought a half acre on North Main Street and began construction on their second home. The house remained in the ownership of the Poe family until August 1999 when it was sold to the current owner. Both Edgar and Maude Poe lived in the house until their deaths as did their daughter and her husband, T.J. Stone.
The residences Poe built for himself in Lenoir were not his first building projects. He had established himself as a builder and may have worked on a number of well-known projects, primarily in western North Carolina, including in Asheville, Boone, Hickory, and possibly Charlotte. After finishing law school, Poe moved to Asheville in 1890 and boarded at 93 Woodfin Street while looking for work. While not fully documented at the present time, it is possible he may have worked as a carpenter at the beginning of the construction of the Vanderbilt's Bilmore Estate as well as many other building projects in Asheville. He also may have worked on buildings in the Hickory area with a local architecture firm of Alfonse.
Sybil Argintar Bowers
Bowers Southeastern Preservation
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Name plaque photo (top photo) courtesy of Jim Wike