Baltimore’s most famous literary landmark may close next year due to budget cuts.
The Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum hasn’t received money from the city for two years. Since that time it’s managed to limp along on private contributions, but they aren’t enough to keep it afloat. Now the curator says if something isn’t done, the museum will probably close in June 2012.
Although the museum gets around 5,000 visitors a year, the money they spend doesn’t cover its $85,000 annual operating budget.
Poe lived in the house from 1832 to 1835 and wrote several stories there, including Ms. Found in a Bottle and Berenice–A Tale.
The Edgar Allen Poe Society of Baltimore gives a more detailed description of the problem and has started an online petition that already has more than 6,000 signatories, including mine. I’d be proud to have your name next to mine on the list.
The Poe house has been in danger before. Back in 1941 the Society saved the house from demolition, and now some local businesses and artists are raising money to keep the museum going. Perhaps readers will rally once again to save a piece of horror history.
[Photo courtesy Midnightdreary]
Even though Edgar Allan Poe’s funeral do-over in Baltimore was a couple weeks ago, there are several locations where it’s not too late to pay tribute to this literary master of horror. Poe, a traveler himself, moved between Boston, Charlottesville and Richmond, Virginia and Baltimore, plus a few towns in between. Because several of the Poe-related landmarks still exist, it’s possible to follow his trail from his birth to his death.
Given that this is the 200th year of his birth, why not pay Poe tribute by heading to one of these locations for a Halloween weekend remembrance?
Bring a copy of his short stories or poems with you to add to the ambiance. Make sure “The Raven” and “The Fall of the House of Usher” are among them: some of the stops are where they were written.
First stop, Boston:
- Poe was born on Carver Street where an historical marker denotes the location of his birthplace. Poe was born to actor parents January 19, 1809
- Fort Independence at Boston Harbor, now a state park, is where Poe enlisted as a private at age 18 in order to support himself. This was after he dropped out of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, the next stop on this Poe tour.
Virginia was an important state at various points in Poe’s life.
- At the University of Virginia, you can visit Poe’s dormitory room at 13 West Range. It holds artifacts like the quill pen Poe might have used. His top hat and green coat are part of the Poe legacy the university has maintained.
- St. John’s Church, 2401 East Broad St., Richmond. The church graveyard is where Poe’s mother, Elizabeth Arnold Poe is buried, as well as Thomas Willis White, his boss when Poe worked at the Southern Literary Messenger.
- Elmira Shelton House, 2407 East Grace Street, Richmond. Even though Poe courted Shelton for several years until and she agreed to marry him, they never did have the wedding. He died in Baltimore 10 days before the ceremony was to take place. This was where Shelton lived when Poe came back to Richmond.
- Talavera, 2315 West Grace St., Richmond. Once the home of writer Susan Talley, a friend of Poe’s sister, this is where Poe gave a reading a few weeks before his death. He and his sister Rosalie visited this house often.
- Poe Statue on the grounds of Virginia’s state capitol building in Richmond.
- The Hiram Haines House at 12 Bank St. in Petersburg is where Poe spent his honeymoon. Back then the building was a coffee house
Other Virginia locations are covered in Poe Revealed where I found the above information. This site is an unusual glance into American history, as well as, an interesting round-up of Poe inspired places.
Next stop, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:
- Head to Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site. This house is where Poe lived and wrote for part of the seven years he lived in Philadelphia. While he was in Philadelphia, Poe penned: “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Fall of the House of Usher” among others.
Last stop, Baltimore, Maryland.
To orient yourself to Poe’s life in Baltimore–and elsewhere, start off at the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum
. He lived in the house from 1883 to 1885 before he moved to Richmond. One of the more unusual displays at this museum are several of the bottles of cognac that have been left on Poe’s grave over the years. This mysterious “Poe Toaster” started paying respect in 1949. Three red roses are always included in the offering.
For a real creep-out part of the tour, stop by Church Hospital
, formerly Washington College Hospital. This hospital is where Poe died after possibly being drugged and beaten. His death wasn’t easy. According to the description of physician’s notes, he wandered in and out of consciousness making morbid outbursts each time he was conscious.
At the Enoch Pratt Free Library
, you’ll find several Poe artifacts, letters, poetry and photographs. The collection also includes a lock of Poe’s hair and a piece of his coffin.
As an end point of this Poe tour, linger at Poe’s grave in the graveyard at Westminster Hall
. The hall is a converted Gothic style church. Of course Poe would be buried next to a Gothic church. The gravestone is not the original and its location is approximate to where it is thought he was buried. When Poe died, he didn’t get much of a send off. Only 10 people (or less) attended his funeral.
Baltimore has been making up to Poe by throwing Nevermore 2009, a year-long, city-wide festival of events for the 200th year of his birth.