“Step inside my house Babe / I’ll sing for you a song / I’ll tell you ‘bout where I’ve been / It shouldn’t take too long / I’ll show you all the things I own / My treasures you might say / Couldn’t be more’n ten dollars worth / But they brighten up my day.”
 — “Step Inside This House,” Guy Clark

    There’s a time capsule on Arsenal Avenue.
    It’s a white, Victorian mansion with its 13 rooms decorated as if the residents of the home simply disappeared on a cool fall day in 1917, leaving the artifacts and artifices of their existence untouched and unchanged for these 91 years — a child’s rag doll; a boy’s tin bugle; a Bible containing a lock of hair serving as a book mark in Acts. Lean in … listen to the old black-and-white photos lining the walls, speaking of days spent on the front porch watching the young men march off to the Great War, or carriages parading down Fayetteville streets when horse power really meant horse power.{mosimage}
    On Oct. 10-11, the public will get a glimpse into these days gone by when the Museum of The Cape Fear sponsors the 10th anniversary of the opening of the historic Poe House; the event will be from 1-5 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Saturday. Activities will include refreshments and games, crafts and cooking demonstrations. Admission is free.
    The Fayetteville landmark, built in 1897 by brick maker and former local politician E.A. Poe — a time also of unrest and inequity. The Poe House – donated to the state in 1987 and now a part of the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex — is preserved with period-correct furniture and fixings from the 20-year period of 18 — full of memories come to life.
    “The house is a wonderful vehicle to interpret a time period,” says Bleazey, the Poe House’s education coordinator. “A hugely transitional time period … It’s a wonderful opportunity to talk about local servitude in a Jim Crowe era and women’s rights and the availability of education and employment opportunities for them.
    “And it’s a great old house full of ‘antiquey’ things,” adds Bleazey. “Everybody says ‘I remember or my mom remembers’ castor oil and chamber pots. It’s like a trip down memory lane for them.”
Recently, one of those travelers was a member of the Poe family. Bleazey says one of the Poe’s granddaughters, now 93, sat on a sofa in the parlor and took a journey back to her childhood — a trip that gave some insight into the eating habits of Mr. Poe.
    “There were times she just glazed over and she was in that parlor as a young girl, sitting with whom she called ‘Mama and Papa Poe,’” said Bleazey. “And her voice got really deep and she said, ‘Oh, Papa Poe was so fat.’”
    A walk through the huge and well-stocked historic kitchen located separately from the main house — to protect the house from both the threat of fire and the oppressive heat generated by the leviathan black iron stove — gives gravity to Mr. Poe’s roundness, just as a trip through the daughters’ room gives depth to the connection between today’s modern teen and the blossoming divas of yesteryear.
    {mosimage}“We don’t have docents dressed in period-correct clothing doing guided tours,” said Bleazey, relating information about a recent school field trip. “You get to walk right in that room, which is very different from say, the Biltmore House, where rooms are roped off or there is Plexiglas to block you off.
    “We walked into the girls’ room and I told the children to look around, you might think you have nothing in common with these girls from 100 years ago, but look there’s a dresser — I bet you’ve got a dresser,” said Bleazey.  “You don’t have a fireplace, but what you do have is probably similar to what these children had almost 100 years ago. It takes history off the pages of a textbook and they (the children) can really see it for themselves.”
    For more information, contact the Museum of the Cape Fear at 486-1330.

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