Hower House Museum Presents: Poe & Doyle Victorian Crime Fiction

The mansion-turned-museum features an expansive exhibit exploring the invention of the detective through fiction, right on The University of Akron campus. 


Image via Savannah Johns.

A front view of the Hower House.

By Savannah Johns, Correspondent

The Hower House Victorian Mansion was built in 1871 and was the long-time home of one of Akron’s leading industrial families. The mansion was deeded to UA and turned into a museum in the 1970s. It is located at 60 Fir Hill St., just around the corner from Bierce Library. 

The Hower House is currently presenting a new exhibit: “Poe & Doyle Victorian Crime Fiction.” Stepping into the museum is like traveling back into the lives of detective authors Edgar Allan Poe and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Each room is filled with information and displays dedicated to the authors’ minds and their contribution to crime writing.  

A banner that hangs on the fence of the museum boasts a photo of the home from the past. (Image via Savannah Johns.)

Tine Hreno, co-Vice President of the Hower House Museum Guild, organized and curated the Poe & Doyle exhibit with the help of volunteers. Hreno also partnered with Jennifer Bazar, Assistant Director at the Drs. Nicolas & Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology. 

“When people visit the Poe & Doyle exhibit, they can expect to learn about the two authors that I feel had the greatest impact on the invention of crime fiction and mystery literature as a genre,” said Hreno. “Because we associate Edgar Allan Poe so heavily with The Raven, we often don’t see that he invented the detective in literature. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle relied on Poe’s work to create Sherlock Holmes. Moreover, both literary collections were related to the need for detective and police work in their communities. Readers found comfort in the fantasy of detectives who could solve any crime.” 

While staff and volunteers work tirelessly to preserve the beautiful home and educate the community, many students do not know that this source is right in their backyards.  

Tours are offered Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Friday through Saturday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Admission for students is only $2 with a school ID.  

Poe and Doyle both remain esteemed authors, and they played pivotal roles in creating Victorian crime fiction. Doyle’ Sherlock Holmes series contributed to the invention of forensic science and were the first stories to have a fan base the way media does today. Sherlock Holmes may be responsible for both catching dangerous criminals and the fan culture surrounding franchises like Marvel or Star Wars, says Hreno.  

“I had a lot of fun putting this together, especially building the bust of Edgar Allan Poe,” said Hreno. She hopes people enjoy walking through the exhibit, which tells the story of the different backgrounds and social statuses of the two authors.  

“Poe came from privilege but wound up always looking to borrow money from friends and colleagues. Doyle’s family was of much more modest means, but he made a fortune writing about Sherlock Holmes. Poe was an orphan, and Doyle came from a large family. I tried to put both of their lives and work in context so that there is a lot to reflect on.” 

The museum also contains a store full of local products and Akron history. Students receive 10% off at the store with their Zips ID. 

The Cellar Door Store, Hower House’s gift shop is located on the bottom floor of the home and has a private entrance in the rear. (Image via Savannah Johns.)

If you have a free hour this fall, stop by and enjoy the hard work of local curators and dive into this history of crime fiction. Lovers of history, art and literature can all find something of interest here.  

You can find more information about the Hower House at