Tour the claustrophobic tenement where the famous author fell in love with his future wife and published his second book.
Edgar Allan Poe is among my favorite authors, but his life wasn’t without controversy. As a young man, Poe enlisted in the U.S. Army and served several years before applying to the United States Military Academy at West Point. Before going to West Point (and subsequently getting booted out), he stayed at the home of his widowed aunt Maria Clemm, where he met her ten-year-old daughter Virginia Eliza Clemm.
Their narrow red brick duplex stood at No. 3 Amity Street in Baltimore Maryland. Today, it is the Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum. Poe lived in this house with the Clemms for approximately one year before attending West Point. Besides his aunt and her daughter, Maria’s ailing mother and possibly her 14-year-old son Henry also lived there (Henry died at a young age at an unknown date).
Touring the small rooms and claustrophobic passages to the second floor and the attic, I can’t imagine what it was like with four people living there without electricity, air conditioning, or plumbing. Despite these conditions, Poe managed to publish Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems in 1829.
During his stay in Baltimore, Poe penned some of his lesser-known short stories and poems, including “The Visionary” and “Serenade”.
After his dismissal from West Point in 1831, he returned to Baltimore and stayed with his aunt and her family until 1835. Later that year, after moving to Richmond to work for the Southern Literary Messenger, 26-year-old Poe proposed to his 13-year-old cousin, Virginia.
In 1938 the Baltimore Housing Authority erected public housing in the neighborhood and demolished one half of the duplex. The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore managed to save the Clemm residence in 1941 and it reopened for tours in 2014.
The museum contains a few artifacts from Poe’s life, including his chair, lap desk, and telescope. The garret bedroom on the third floor is furnished as though it was Poe’s room, but according to a sign posted at the doorway, Poe more likely slept in the back bedroom with his cousin Henry and Virginia stayed in the garret room.
This is a must-see for any fan of Poe’s work, and a self guided tour can easily be accomplished in ten to fifteen minutes. Souvenirs are for sale to help support the museum. They also hold a “Poe Fest International” in October.
The Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum is located at 203 N. Amity Street in Baltimore, Maryland. It’s open Thursday thru Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission for adults is $8, $6 for students, active duty military, and seniors. Admission for children 12 and under is free.