Poe’s Baltimore

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The Simpsons as a television show ranks fairly high in our house. I have always been wondering the right time to introduce the show to our daughters, because it is such a cultural touchstone. So last year I decided to allow them to see some of the Treehouse of Horror episodes. To gauge their interest, I showed them Lisa Simpson’s reading of The Raven and they were immediately hooked. Since then, I have used October as an opportunity to introduce them to Poe’s poems and short stories. The Raven has played

With Halloween fast approaching, it was the perfect time to introduce our girls Edgar Allan Poe’s Baltimore. Our first stop was the Poe House, which was built in 1830 at what was the edge of Baltimore. By 1832, Maria Clemm, her mother Elizabeth Cairnes Poe, and daughter Virginia Eliza Clemm moved from East Baltimore to the house.Accompanying Maria, Elizabeth and Virginia was a 23 year old Edgar Allan Poe. Edgar, who had recently released his third volume of poems, entitled Poems, was attempting start his career as a writer. In 1833, Poe was awarded a prize in October 1833 for his short story Ms. Found in a Bottle and introduced to Thomas W. White, editor of the Southern Literary Messenger. Poe only lived in the Baltimore house until 1835 when he moved to Richmond where he became White’s assistant editor. He returned in 1836 to marry his cousin Virginia Eliza, before returning to Richmond.

The house is quite small and can be visited in about 30 minutes, through a self-guided tour. Along the way, are displays outlining Poe’s life and death in Baltimore, the short-stories that he wrote while in Baltimore, and the genealogy of the Poe family. Poe artifacts inside the house include the author’s writing desk and telescope, while the attic contains a simple bedroom that was Poe’s. There is also a gift shop with tons of Poe related memorabilia.

Our second stop was the Westminster Burying Grounds, where Edgar, Virginia and Maria are buried. The grave is right near the entrance and features several display plaques. In addition to the Poe grave, Westminster Burying Grounds a number of famous Marylanders are interred at the site. These include James McHenry (signer of the U.S. Constitution and namesake of Fort McHenry), Robert Smith (Secretary of State and the Navy, and Attorney General), and Samuel Smith (militia commander during the 1814 Battle of Baltimore). The burying grounds are open to the public during daylight hours from 8 AM till dusk and are free of charge.

Website: The Poe in Baltimore website has a number of great recommendations for alternate locations linked to Poe throughout Baltimore.

Know Before You Go: Like many homes built in the 19th Century, the Poe House in Baltimore is very small and cramped. Visitors should take care on the steep stairs to the second floor and the attic.

Location: The Poe House is located at 203 North Amity Street in Baltimore, Maryland. The best way to get to the house is via car, where there is plenty of parking.

Hours: The Poe House is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11 AM to 4PM through the end of December. There is a special opening on Halloween.

Admission: Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for seniors, active duty military and students with IDs. Children under 12 are admitted free with an adult.

 

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