85 West 3rd Street / Furman Hall

Posted on November 13, 2019

New York City is home to some of the most notable views in the United States. There are many sites and buildings in the city that do not need any introduction because they are instantly recognizable. If you are lucky enough to visit the Big Apple, you most likely have a list of places to see and things to do.

If you are a college student, or thinking about going to college, you might have NYU on your list of universities to visit. And by all accounts, Furman Hall, which is located at 85 West 3rd Street is part of New York University’s Law School. But what you may not know, is that there is a much deeper story and history regarding this building.

85 West 3rd Street

This was the location of the home that Edgar Allen Poe lived in with his wife and his mother-in-law.

Edgar Allan Poe lived at 85 West Third Street, which is located in the Greenwich Village section of New York City from 1844 until the early months of 18461. He then moved on to a cottage in the Bronx with his wife and mother-in-law when his wife’s health began to rapidly decline. Edgar Allen Poe wrote “The Cask of Amontillado, “and he revised and published “The Raven” while living at the house on 85 West 3rd Street. In a petition that was signed by over 70 scholars in the hopes of saving the house, Edgar Allen Poe also achieved his lifelong dream of acquiring his own literary magazine and worked on at least three important short stories while living there. Clearly this location has a lot of historical significance in the literary world.

Source [https://www.matthewchilders.com/product/edgar-allan-poe-11×17-poster/]

The Creation Of Furman Hall

New York University wanted to add on to the law school. However, the construction of Furman Hall would require them to destroy Edgar Allen Poe’s former residence. Fortunately, both sides were able to reach a compromise. The deal was, New York University would agree to preserve the façade of the Poe house. However, New York University was able to move the façade of the house half a block away from the original location. The house facade now stands surrounded by nine-stories of 170,000-square-foot modernist architecture. Sadly, none of the original salmon-colored bricks from the house were used in the new structure. Walk past Furman Hall and you would never know this was supposed to be the actual remnant of a 19th-century house. In fact, Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation says that” It looks tacked on. It’s a façade, literally and figuratively.”  As a nod to the house’s history, the new bricks were set in a running bond pattern, and contractors used the same size, pointing and the thin mortar joints of an 1899 design. According to the settlement that was reached between both groups, New York University promised to make a good faith effort to match the color, dimension, character and texture of the 1899 bricks, while at the same time conserving and reusing as many other elements in the new facade as were present in the old one. Judith Alpert, an associate dean for real estate planning and capital projects for New York University’s law school responded to criticism of the facade. She stated that “Unfortunately, there was not enough of the original bricks to use on the full facade. What we did instead was save a portion of them, and put a panel inside the room of the original bricks.” The NYU Law School does permit access to the building’s interior space for programs, local schools, and community organizations and to the public on a regular, scheduled basis.

Source[ https://ny.curbed.com/maps/new-york-city-haunted-buildings-halloween]

How Is It Haunted?

The inside of Furman Hall also has a banister that was part of the original house that Edgar Allen Poe occupied with his wife and mother-in-law. Today, law students at New York University have reported seeing his ghost going up and down this banister.

What Else Is Creepy About That Area?

If you walk by 85 W 3rd Street, you will see the reconstructed façade of the house Edgar Allan Poe resided in between the years of 1844 to 1846. During Poe’s time at the home, he created one of his most famous works, ‘The Raven’. Sadly, the original building was dismantled in 2001 so that New York University’s Furman Hall could be built. Everything was dismantled except for a banister. This banister is located inside Furman Hall and from time to time it is said to be haunted by the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe himself. Poe also resided in a couple of other places throughout the city. This home that Edgar Allen Poe lived in, overlooks Washington Square Park, another location in New York City that has its own dark history that happened long before Poe’s residency.

Where Else Does Poe’s Ghost Visit?

Edgar Allen Poe lived in various places around New York City as well. Poe also used to live on the second floor at 47 Bond Street and it was said that he enjoyed spending time at the bar below. These days the location is wine cellar for a restaurant. Restaurant staff say that Edgar Allen Poe’s ghost is responsible for moving around unopened wine bottles.

Other Ghosts In The Neighborhood

Edgar Allen Poe is not the only ghost to haunt the neighborhood. If you happen to visit Greenwich Village, keep an eye out for some other notable ghostly writers.

Dylan Thomas was a Welsh poet who first came to New York in the 1950s when he arrived for a tour of local art centers. Thomas is known for poems such as “Do not go gentle into that good night” and “Light breaks where no sun shines”. Dylan Thomas became even more famous after arriving in America. In fact, Thomas made repeat visits to New York City and quickly gained a reputation for being a brilliant poet who was sadly doomed by drinking. On his last trip in 1953, Thomas made several stops at the White Horse Tavern, which was one of his favorite drinking establishments. After a two-day binge of heavy drinking, Thomas died the following day in St. Vincent’s hospital. The White Horse Tavern staff have seen beer and shot glasses mysteriously appear at his favorite table. They are convinced Thomas is still hanging around hoping to enjoy another drink with fellow bar-goers.

Samuel Clemens, also known as Mark Twain, is one of America’s most celebrated authors. He is known for spending long amounts of time traveling by steamboat and traveling. But he also lived Greenwich Village for a year between 1900-1901. His ghost has reportedly been seen making appearances in his old residence since the 1930s. It is reported that he is wearing a white suit, and can be found on the first floor or by the staircase inquiring about some business he must tend to.

Conclusion

New York City is steeped in literary history. Many famous authors, poets and artists have made the Village their home over the years. One such notable author was Edgar Allen Poe. He wrote some of his most notable work while working at his home at 85 West 3rd Street.

Today the house is gone. But the facade and banister were moved into Furman Hall. If you are visiting New York University, or just happen to be in the area, stop in. Take a look at the facade and try to picture Poe writing the Raven within. Then look at the banister and see if you can catch a glimpse of his spirit.

There is much to do in New York City and a walk through Greenwich Village is nice anytime of the year. And no trip to the Big Apple would be complete without a stroll through this historical neighborhood.

 

Sources:

https://washingtonsquarehotel.com/3-famous-literary-ghosts-haunt-greenwich-village/

https://ny.curbed.com/maps/new-york-city-haunted-buildings-halloween

https://citylimits.org/event/edgar-allan-poe-and-his-ghostly-neighbors-of-greenwich-village/