The Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum is funded, maintained, and interpreted by Poe Baltimore, a not-for-profit organization. The museum, open to visitors Thursdays through Sundays on a seasonal schedule, is the National Historic Landmark of the location where Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849) lived with his aunt and two of his cousins from 1833 to 1835.
Poe is an American writer best known for his macabre short stories and poems. He is said to have invented the genres of science fiction and detective fiction and is perhaps the first well-known American writer to have made his living solely through writing. He supplemented his income from creative writing by working as an editor and literary critic. Although the home is unfurnished, the plasterwork and woodwork remains original to the time Poe lived there. It is said that Poe wrote at least 10 of the short stories and poems for which he is well known while living in the small room on the third floor of this house. In addition, approximately eight of his literary reviews were published during this time. His portable writing desk and chair are on display as well as artifacts from when he lived with the Allan family in Richmond, Virginia, foster parents who had taken in the orphaned Poe at the age of 2. These items include a telescope, china, and glassware.
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History: The unassuming brick row home at 3 Amity Street (now 203) was built in 1830. Poe’s aunt, Maria Clemm, rented the home in 1832 and lived there with her mother and her daughter, Poe’s cousin (and future wife) Virginia Clemm. Then 23-year-old Poe moved in with the Clemm family in 1833 and lived there until 1835. He is said to have occupied the top floor room, a small space with a sharply pitched ceiling that reached just 6 feet high at its highest point. In the 1930s, the house was scheduled to be demolished, but was saved and donated to the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore, which opened the home as a museum in 1949. The museum displayed a small number of artifacts, including a painted portrait Poe made of his wife after her death, a lock of Poe’s hair, and a small piece of his coffin. The museum was known for its well-attended events, including an annual Poe birthday party held at his gravesite each January and a third funeral for Poe held on the bicentennial of his death in 2009. The celebration was attended by over 1,200 guests. The museum closed in 2012 after the City of Baltimore reduced its funding in 2011. In 2013, Poe Baltimore, a new nonprofit organization, was formed and the house and museum reopened. Poe Baltimore is an affiliate of the American Writer’s Museum, in good company with the Louisa May Alcott Orchard house, the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, the Emily Dickinson Museum, the Pearl S. Buck birthplace and home, and the Truman Capote and Harper Lee Old Courthouse Museum, among others.
Ongoing Programs and Education: Tours of the museum are hosted by Visit Baltimore, Baltimore’s tourism organization. The tour takes visitors to the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s Poe Room, which houses a collection of Poe’s work, to the house and museum, and also to the Westminster Hall and Burying Ground, where Poe was laid to rest. Tours should be booked directly with Visit Baltimore. Special events at the house and museum are scheduled from time to time and include readings of Poe’s work or readings from authors and poets inspired by Poe. The Poe & Poets live poetry reading series takes place on the second Sunday of each month and offers a poetry reading as well as an open mic. The annual Pints for Poe event raises money each spring for the upkeep of the house and educational programming.
Past and Future Exhibits: Exhibits at the home and museum are temporary. Poe and Print featured reproductions of rare books and magazines from the Susan Jaffe Tane Collection. The works showcased Poe’s savvy in the world of publishing in the 1830s and ‘40s as he diversified his contributions to periodicals and books to earn a living as a writer. The museum frequently hosts specially themed tours of the home. Tours have been led by historians or authors and in one case the museum hosted an actor who led special tours of the home as Edgar Allan Poe himself.
203 N. Amity Street, Baltimore, MD 21223, website, Phone: 410-462-1763
Back to: Baltimore, MD