Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum

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Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum

The Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum, located at 203 Amity St. in Baltimore, Maryland, is the former home of American writer Edgar Allan Poe in the 1830s. Now open as a museum, the small unassuming structure is a typical row home, and also houses the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1972. Due to a loss of a subsidy from the city of Baltimore, the Museum may soon have to close its doors.


The brick home, then numbered 3 Amity St., and now numbered 203 Amity Street, is assumed to have been built in 1830 and rented by Poe's aunt Maria Clemm in 1832. Clemm was joined in the home with her ailing mother, Elizabeth Cairnes Poe, and her daughter Virginia Clemm. Edgar Allan Poe moved in with the family in 1833 around the age of 23, after leaving West Point. Virginia was 10 years old at the time; Poe would marry her three years later, though their only public ceremony was in 1836.

The house was rented using pension money that Elizabeth collected thanks to her husband, David Poe Sr., who was a veteran of the American Revolutionary War. The home is small and Poe's room on the top floor has a ceiling with a sharp pitch which is six feet high at its tallest point.

In the 1930s, homes in the area, including Poe's, were set for demolition to make room for the "Poe Homes" public housing project. The house was spared and control was given to the Edgar Allan Poe Society, which opened the home in 1949. The Poe Society still oversees the building with assistance from Baltimore's Commission for Historic and Architectural Preservation (CHAP). At some point during renovations, they lifted the floorboards and found skeletal remains, reminiscent of Poe's story "The Tell-Tale Heart." They turned out to be animal bones discarded into what is known as a "trash pit" beneath the home.

Museum today

The home is open to the public as a modest museum with self-guided tours. Displays in the house include a lock of Poe's hair, some original china that once belonged to John Allan (Poe's guardian after Eliza Poe's death), and a large reproduction of the portrait of Virginia Clemm painted after her death as well as many other Poe-related images. A reprint of the 1849 obituary from the October 24, 1849 edition of the Philadelphia Dollar Newspaper is also on display along with a reprint of Poe's original announcement for the creation of a new literary magazine to be called The Stylus - an endeavor that never came to fruition.

The museum and the Poe Society also host a number of Poe events throughout the year. It claims, for example, the largest Poe birthday celebration in the world every January at the Westminster Hall and Burying Ground. The organization also observes the annual visit of the mysterious Poe Toaster and helps protect his identity.

The current curator of the museum is Jeff Jerome.

Works penned in this house

Though it cannot be fully proven, the Poe Society alleges that the following works were created while Poe was staying in this house:


The Poe House is a 2½ story two-bay brick structure with a gabled metal roof. The front door is on the left side of the west elevation, at the top of a wood stoop. The house is flanked on the north by a contiguous building; the south elevation is windowless. A single gabled dormer is centered in the west roof. To the rear a two story ell projects from the south side of the main block. Its shed roof slopes to the north. The house sits on the western edge of an active low-income housing project in the west Baltimore neighborhood of Poppleton.

The house is entered through the front living room, with a dining room to the rear and two steps down. From the dining room narrow stairs lead to the dirt-floored basement and the second floor. Two bedrooms occupy the second floor, and stairs lead to a small attic or garret, which may have been occupied by Poe. The house retains the majority of its original woodwork.

Poe House in popular culture

In the opening scene of episode 2, season 3 "All Due Respect," of the HBO series The Wire, two low-level members of the Barksdale Gang recall how one was once approached by a white tourist asking him if he knew the location of the "Poe House". Misunderstanding, he replies "Look around, take your pick!"The Wire chronicles the activities of the fictional Barksdale Organization based in west Baltimore, where the Poe House is located.