A Pilgrimage to Edgar Allan Poe in Baltimore

From the Poe House and Museum to his gravesite, the master of the macabre’s tell-tale haunts

If ghosts exist, then surely that of Edgar Allan Poe roams the streets of Baltimore. The revered writer was born in Boston and considered Richmond, Virginia, home, but this is where he died. And fittingly, Poe’s demise on October 7, 1849, at age 40 remains shrouded in mystery. He was found, disheveled and delirious, at a bar turned temporary polling place in Fells Point. After four incoherent days in the hospital, he awoke—nevermore! Speculation on the cause of death has run the gamut from alcoholism to rabies.

Poe’s Baltimore experiences, though, weren’t all tales of woe. In his 20s, he lived in a brick duplex on N. Amity Street, where he fell in love with his cousin and future wife, Virginia Eliza Clemm, and launched his literary career after claiming first prize in a short story contest run by the Baltimore Saturday Visiter. Nearly two centuries later, the man credited with creating the detective story still inspires a devoted following around the world and in the city where he wrote, loved and died.

From a crowded house to a rollicking saloon and a graceful graveyard, these Poe-related sites give glimpses into the man of mystery.

Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum

From 1832 to 1835, Poe occupied a five-room duplex—in what must have been very close quarters— along with his aunt, grandmother and two cousins. Now a National Historic Landmark, his former home opens for self-guided tours on weekends from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through December ($5).

Poe devotees echo his footsteps across the original floors and up the narrow, twisty (almost menacing!) staircases. Though mostly unfurnished, the rooms showcase informational placards plus artifacts like a telescope, chair and traveling desk. Be sure to get a look at the attic space where Poe likely worked and slept. 203 N. Amity St.

Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum, Baltimore

The Horse You Came in On

According to legend, Poe was last seen sentient at this saloon. The Fells Point mainstay—since 1775—serves up tavern fare like crabcakes on brioche buns and locally brewed Loose Cannon IPA, plus live music daily. 1626 Thames St.

The Horse You Came In On, Baltimore

Westminster Hall and Burying Ground

Of the scribe’s many followers, the most faithful may be the Poe Toaster. For 60-plus years (until 2009), the anonymous admirer visited Poe’s grave here. Every January 19, Poe’s birthday, he raised a glass of cognac, then left the bottle and three red roses. The cemetery, surrounding a Gothic Revival-style former church, is open daily from 8 am to 6 pm. 515 W.Fayette St.

Westminster Hall and Burying Ground, Baltimore

Annabel Lee Tavern

Poe’s ghost would no doubt frequent Kurt Bragunier’s brick-and-mortar tribute to the writer. Named for his last poem, the Canton bar sets a creepy yet cozy tone with stuffed ravens, scrawled verses and comfort food to pair with Poe-themed cocktails. 601 S. Clinton St.

Annabel Lee Tavern, Baltimore

Enoch Pratt Free Library

At the 1882 library, a Poe collection holds books, letters, a lock of hair and a fragment of his coffin. 400 Cathedral St.

Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore

 

Brooke Sabin
About the author

Brooke served as the Washington, D.C., edito...