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Van Lew Twin Houses

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1844. 2403 and 2407 E. Grace St.

These two brick Greek Revival houses, both two and one-half stories and three bays with side entrances and porticoes, were the only houses on the block for several decades. Both have two-story rear porches. Eliza Van Lew, mother of Elizabeth (see RI75), had them built as rental properties. From 1846 to 1852 Elmira Royster Shelton rented number 2407. Shelton, a widow, was a savvy businesswoman, but she is known today as Edgar Allan Poe's sweetheart. When they were both teenagers, she and Poe fell in love and secretly promised that they would marry. When Poe left Richmond to attend the University of Virginia, he wrote many letters to Elmira, but her father, who disapproved of the relationship, intercepted them. Each assumed that the other had lost interest and went on to marry someone else. In the 1840s, when Poe returned to Richmond, Poe and Shelton discovered that their attraction was still strong. Both had been widowed, and in 1849 they again decided to marry. After visiting Shelton here at 2407, Poe left for a business trip to New York, but died on the way in Baltimore. The Shelton House was restored in 1957–1958 and served as the headquarters for the Historic Richmond Foundation.

Writing Credits

Richard Guy Wilson et al.


What's Nearby


Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Van Lew Twin Houses", [Richmond, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, Richard Guy Wilson and contributors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 200-200.

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