There’s just something creepy about a Poe-boy. And where he once lived.
Edgar Allan Poe was known for his literary mastery of the macabre and his contribution to the mystery/detective genre through his terrifying short stories and poems.
He lived in various east coast cities throughout his lifetime including Boston, Richmond, Philadelphia, and New York. His former home in Baltimore, Maryland is where he lived in the 1830’s and where he became acquainted with his future wife: his 13-year-old cousin Virginia.
This historic brick row house is only one of several preserved former Poe residences.
House Crazy Sarah will eventually get around to profiling the other ones but she’s starting with this one because it is especially creepy.
Located at 203 North Amity Street in what is now a low-income neighborhood of Baltimore, the home was opened as a writer’s house museum in 1949, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1972.
Below is a late 19th century photo of the Poe house:
And this one was taken around mid-twentieth century:
As you can see from these pictures, the building next door was cut down somewhere along the way, but Poe’s former home remains largely the same, including the narrow arched doorway to the left of the front door.
Let’s have a peek inside…
The interior is in excellent condition with much of the original materials preserved from the 1833-1835 period when Poe lived there with his aunt, grandmother and two cousins. The woodwork, flooring, and plaster walls are all original.
Visitors to the house describe it as ‘claustrophobic’ and we can get a sense of the small spaces from these photos.
Today, the house has very little furniture but is packed with exhibits that tell the story of Edgar Allan Poe’s life in Baltimore. Artifacts such as Edgar’s portable writing desk and chair, his telescope, and china/glassware that belonged to his family are on display at the museum.
The layout of the house is tight to say the least. The front door opens into the living room/parlor, with a dining room/kitchen area to the rear. From the dining room, narrow stairs go to the cellar basement and also up to the second floor.
There are two small bedrooms on the second floor, and the stairs lead further up to a tiny attic or garret, which was probably occupied by Poe. That’s a total of five rooms, and no bathroom, as the house originally had no plumbing or electricity. Imagine three adults and two teenagers holed up in this tiny house, with Edgar being the only male. No wonder he ended up marrying his young cousin!
The attic room, thought to be where Edgar stayed, has a ceiling with a very sharp pitch and is only six feet high at its tallest point.
Fun fact: in 1979 during renovations, workers lifted the cellar floorboards and found skeletal remains! The bones were later determined to be of animal origin and it is presumed they were discarded into what was known as the “midden” (trash-pit) beneath the home.
Former displays in this creepy house museum included a lock of Poe’s actual hair cut from his head after his death, a small piece of Poe’s coffin, and an original 1849 obituary by Poe’s personal nemesis Rufus Griswold in the October 24, 1849 edition of the Philadelphia Dollar Newspaper.
There’s just something so foreboding and imposing about this little brick row house.
Another one to add to the dead-writer’s-house-tour bucket list!
Also, don’t miss House Crazy Sarah’s post on an Edgar Allan Poe-themed bookstore!