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(This arti­cle may or may not con­tain affil­i­ate links. What does that mean?)

Many peo­ple con­sid­er Edgar Allan Poe to be the cre­ator of the mod­ern hor­ror, mys­tery, and sci­ence fic­tion short sto­ry.   Because of that, most stu­dents read at least one Poe sto­ry in mid­dle or high school, and even reluc­tant read­ers admit he’s pret­ty cool.  What’s not to like about a talk­ing raven or a heart beat­ing under the floor­boards?  So, when vis­it­ing Bal­ti­more, why not take your own reluc­tant readers/Poe fans to vis­it some of the city’s well-known Poe Places?

Edgar Allan Poe Baltimore Walking Tour with Teens
All hail the twist­ed plots — Pho­to by Nathan Wright

The Edgar Allan Poe House

The Edgar Allan Poe House, a Nation­al His­toric Land­mark ded­i­cat­ed to the man who lived and wrote here. Accord­ing to Enri­ca Jang, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of Poe Bal­ti­more, the house retains much of the orig­i­nal plas­ter walls and wood­work from the 1833–1835 peri­od when Poe lived there, so even though the house isn’t fur­nished, vis­i­tors can still walk on the same floors and stairs the writer did – hope­ful­ly with­out a beat­ing heart underneath.

Edgar Allan Poe Baltimore Walking Tour with Teens - Edgar Allan Poe House
Enter.…if you dare! — Pho­to by Vis­it Baltimore

Vis­i­tors can also see Poe’s own portable writ­ing desk and chair, and explore exhibits that tell the sto­ry of his life and death, includ­ing bot­tles of cognac left by the Poe Toast­er, an unknown stranger – or more like­ly series of strangers – who vis­it­ed Poe’s grave from 1949 until 2010.

Edgar Allan Poe Baltimore Walking Tour with Teens - Edgar Allan Poe House
Pho­to by Vis­it Baltimore

The Muse­um Info

Westminster Hall & Burying Ground

After learn­ing about The Poe Toast­er, it seems fit­ting to vis­it Poe’s grave. The final rest­ing place of Edgar Allan Poe, his young wife, and her moth­er is in one of Bal­ti­more’s old­est ceme­ter­ies at West­min­ster Hall & Bury­ing Ground, which is only about a 10-minute walk from the museum.

The Toast­er was giv­en that name because he left a par­tial bot­tle of cognac and three ros­es on Poe’s mon­u­ment every Jan­u­ary 19, the anniver­sary of Poe’s birth.  Nobody knew why he left the cognac, but it was assumed the three ros­es were to hon­or the three peo­ple whose remains lie beneath the mon­u­ment. The iden­ti­ty of the stranger was nev­er dis­cov­ered – and nobody ever tried to stop him – but nev­er­the­less he made his last vis­it in Jan­u­ary of 2010, dis­ap­pear­ing as mys­te­ri­ous­ly as he appeared. But that’s not the end of the Toast­er tale. In 2016, the Mary­land His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety decid­ed the impor­tant Bal­ti­more tra­di­tion should­n’t end just because the orig­i­nal Toast­er was gone, so they orga­nized a com­pe­ti­tion to pick a new Poe Toast­er to con­tin­ue the annu­al tribute.

Edgar Allan Poe Baltimore Walking Tour with Teens
It’s a long shot — Pho­to by Charles “Duck” Unitas

Orig­i­nal­ly, Poe was buried in an unmarked grave towards the back of the ceme­tery, but in 1875, Bal­ti­more school chil­dren start­ed a cam­paign called “Pen­nies for Poe,” and raised mon­ey for a mon­u­ment at the entrance of the cemetery. 

Edgar Allan Poe Baltimore Walking Tour with Teens - gravesite
At least they spelled it right — Pho­to by Vis­it Baltimore

Poe’s grave is not the only cool thing to see at West­min­ster Hall & Bury­ing Ground. The restored his­toric church has beau­ti­ful stained glass win­dows and an 1882 pipe organ, but true Poe afi­ciona­dos won’t want to miss the cat­a­combs. This area was cre­at­ed in 1852 when the build­ing was con­struct­ed on top of the grave­yard so its foun­da­tion strad­dles the grave­stones and bur­ial vaults. While Poe’s famous sto­ry “The Cask of Amon­til­la­do” is not set in Bal­ti­more, Poe read­ers with mor­bid imag­i­na­tions (like my fam­i­ly) will undoubt­ed­ly think of the tale’s unfor­tu­nate – and iron­i­cal­ly named –For­tu­na­to who was buried alive in under­ground catacombs.

Edgar Allan Poe Baltimore Walking Tour with Teens - gravesite
The last stop — Pho­to by Vis­it Baltimore

West­min­ster Hall & Bury­ing Ground

Charm City Clue Room

Kids love puz­zles – and so do many adults – so the per­fect way for fam­i­lies to test their new­found Poe knowl­edge is to solve the puz­zles in the Edgar Allan Poe-themed room at Charm City Clue Room in Bal­ti­more’s Inner Harbor.

Edgar Allan Poe Baltimore Walking Tour with Teens
Can You Escape?

“One of the things that makes escape rooms so great for fam­i­lies is that it’s some­thing every­one can have fun doing,” says Sean Mur­phy, own­er of Charm City Clue Room. “Kids often solve puz­zles the adults miss…and they real­ly love when they out-think their parents!”

The cur­rent Poe room is designed around his sto­ry, “The Oval Por­trait.” With an escape rate of just 35%, the chal­lenge is on to release a mys­te­ri­ous woman whose soul is trapped in a paint­ing. When the cur­rent room is retired (rooms change every 18 months or so), it will be replaced with a new chal­lenge based on a dif­fer­ent Poe story.

The Rooms – Inner Har­bor Baltimore

Poe Statue

A per­fect spot for a fam­i­ly pho­to op is the stat­ue of Edgar Allan Poe in the Gor­don Plaza at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Bal­ti­more Law School. Orig­i­nal­ly com­mis­sioned in 1907, to mark the 100th anniver­sary of Poe’s birth in 1909, the stat­ue did­n’t actu­al­ly arrive in Bal­ti­more until 1921 after a series of unfor­tu­nate events. First, a 1913 fire destroyed the first mod­el. Then, a 1915 earth­quake destroyed the sec­ond mod­el and final­ly, World War I delayed the trans-Atlantic ship­ment of the third. When the stat­ue final­ly made it to Bal­ti­more, the inscrip­tion – a quote from Poe’s poem “The Raven” – had two typos. Blog Bal­ti­more or Less says it read: “Dream­ng dreams no mor­tals ever dared to dream before.” Not only was the “i” miss­ing from the first word (“dream­ng”), but an extra “s” was added to the fourth (“mor­tals”). Bal­ti­more poet Edmond Fontaine took the gram­mat­i­cal slights per­son­al­ly. Accord­ing to the blog Life’s Lit­tle Mys­ter­ies:

In 1930, after sev­er­al years of reg­u­lar­ly writ­ing let­ters of com­plaint to local news­pa­pers, [Fontaine] final­ly took a chis­el to the stat­ue to remove “the offend­ing let­ter … for the good of my soul,” he explained at the time. Fontaine was ini­tial­ly arrest­ed for chis­el­ing off the “s” but was lat­er released with a warning.

Edgar Allan Poe Baltimore Walking Tour with Teens   Poe statue
Let me at ’em 

When the stat­ue was moved in 1980s to its cur­rent loca­tion, they replaced the orig­i­nal base and fixed the typos.

The stat­ue has become a mas­cot for the uni­ver­si­ty where it stands. If fam­i­lies vis­it dur­ing the NFL play­offs, they can see Poe bathed in pur­ple light to sup­port the Bal­ti­more Ravens, the city’s foot­ball team named after the famous poem.

“Poe-tober”

While any time of year is a good time of year to expe­ri­ence Poe’s Bal­ti­more, fam­i­lies vis­it­ing Bal­ti­more in the fall can take advan­tage of the Hal­loween-ish atmos­phere to vis­it some of Poe’s haunts at their spook­i­est. In fact, in Bal­ti­more, Octo­ber is often referred to as “Poe-tober.”

One cool Poe-tober expe­ri­ence is the annu­al Poe bus tour with David Keltz. Keltz first per­formed as Poe at the writer’s grave on Hal­loween night in 1991, and his Poe reper­toire now includes hours of Poe’s writ­ing, includ­ing poems, short sto­ries, essays, and let­ters. The tour begins at Annabel Lee Tav­ern, a Bal­ti­more pub named after the sub­ject of Poe’s last com­plete poem about a woman the nar­ra­tor loves so much that his love con­tin­ues after her death.  Even if fam­i­lies aren’t plan­ning to take the bus tour, the Annabel Lee Tav­ern is a cool Poe-relat­ed spot to have a meal and toast the writer – maybe even with a shot of cognac!

Edgar Allan Poe Baltimore Walking Tour with Teens - gravesite
Risen from the grave — Pho­to by Annie Smith

David Keltz Shows

Annabelle Tav­ern

Death Weekend Tours

This year, the city is hon­or­ing Poe with the first annu­al Inter­na­tion­al Edgar Allan Poe Fes­ti­val. Held on Octo­ber 6 and 7 – to mark the anniver­sary of Poe’s death – the free event will cel­e­brate the writer’s lega­cy with Poe-themed per­for­mances, spe­cial Death Week­end Tours that include vis­its to Poe’s house and grave (and re-enact­ment of Poe’s 1849 funer­al), and Poe Bal­ti­more’s annu­al Black Cat Ball, a three-hour din­ner cruise in Bal­ti­more’s Inner Har­bor aboard the apt­ly-named steamship yacht, Raven.

NOTE: The Death Tours have already sold out for the 2018 fes­ti­val, but there are many oth­er activ­i­ties and events to enjoy.

Poe Fest International