Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, yet is considered a “son of Baltimore.” He came from a Baltimore family, spent a part of his life there, and died in the city. It’s been said that his literary career was ignited when he won a contest sponsored by the Baltimore Saturday Visiter.
His last surviving residence in Baltimore was opened as a historic house in 1949 and is home to the Edgar Allan Poe Society. The brick building, located at 203 North Amity Street, was set to be demolished with other homes to make way for a housing project in the 1930s, but thanks to the Poe Society, the house was spared from the developer’s wrecking ball.
Today, the rescued home is known as The Baltimore Poe House.
The city of Baltimore, as well as the entire world, owe a great deal to the Edgar Allan Poe Society for keeping the poet’s legacy alive and for securing the sustainability of the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum. The group was established in 1923, but its roots originate from earlier Poe organizations that date back approximately fifty years before.
In addition to other events, the Society holds a grand annual birthday celebration at the Westminster Hall and Burying Ground, the place where the poet was buried in 1849. Also held at the Westminster Hall was a third funeral for Poe (the second was held in 2009), which was attended by an estimated 1,200 people. It received national and international media attention.
Today, the society’s website remains alive and well. Although its routine appearance looks as unremarkable as the Poe House itself, it nonetheless contains a vast resource of poems, prose, collections, biographies and other items of interest about him.
Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum
The House and Museum faced hardships over the years. In 2011, city officials cut the museum’s subsidy, resulting in its eventual closure in 2012. Poe fans and supporters refused to accept the shutting of its doors, and a slew of organizations contributed efforts to ensure the museum’s future. This included the making of the 2012 film, The Raven, the formation of the New York City non-profit theater company Bedlam Ensemble, and the non-profit project Pennies for Poe: Save the Poe House in Baltimore.
A year later, the house was reopened to the public again thanks to a newly formed non-profit organization called Poe Baltimore, which now operates the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum through donations.
Former exhibited items in the museum include a small piece of the author’s coffin, a lock of his hair, and a large portrait of Virginia Clemm, Poe’s wife.
It was in this small Baltimore space where Poe penned many of his masterpieces, and a tour inside the home helps visitors sense the author’s surroundings as he wrote them.
It is believed that the following works were created in the Poe House, although the verity of these claims cannot be fully proven.
- King Pest the First. A Tale containing an Allegory
- Lionizing: A Tale
- Found in a Bottle
- Shadow-A Parable
- The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall
- Latin Hymn
- The Coliseum
PoeHouse-Baltimore, via Wikimedia Commons