The Edgar Allen Poe House

People often take it for granted that Edgar Allen Poe's former houses
could be haunted. Though his ghost has been spotted other places, his old home
on 203 N. Amity Street in Baltimore is haunted by someone else.
The building is a two and a half story brick row house. It is very small
and narrow. The attic room that Poe lived in is so tiny that adults often
have trouble standing up in it. The house was built in 1830, and Poe's
aunt Maria Clemm rented it in 1832. Poe himself lived there from that year
until 1835, along with her, his grandmother, and two cousins. (One of these
cousins was Virginia Clemm, whom he later married.)

In 1939 the house was almost demolished during a "slum clearance" program.
It was taken over by the Edgar Allen Poe society of Baltimore in 1941. The
house is open to the public and operated by Jeff Jerome, who has been the
curator since 1977. One of the interesting things that can be seen there
is a portrait of Poe's wife painted from her corpse.
Doors and windows in the Poe house often open and close by themselves. In
1968 a local resident called the police after seeing a light moving around
the closed building late at night. When the police arrived they saw a
candle-like light move from the first floor, through the second, and up to
the attic. When they went into the house no one was there.
Curator Jeff Jerome has stated to several sources that the identity of the
spirits has not been determined. Most of the activity has taken place in
the bedroom that was once Poe's grandmother's. (Jerome has also cautioned that
many people have lived there besides Poe. Have lived there. After all, it
was a rental house in a slum area.) Elizabeth Poe did die in the house in
1835. In her room many people have been tapped on the shoulder. In 1980
people gathered for a radio station publicity stunt heard voices and other
noises.  Several psychics have reported seeing visions of an old woman
dressed in clothing of the 1830s. She has grey hair and is heavy set.
Psychics have also reported sensations in Virginia's room and Poe's attic.

During the 1940s the building became surrounded by Poe homes, the city's
first housing project. Since then, the neighborhood residents have had
their own stories about the Poe museum. Tales about his spirit are used to
frighten children. A November 1985 New York Times article reported that
street gangs were afraid of the house and therefore left it alone. Several
residents have admitted to being scared of the place.
A recent article that appeared in the Baltimore Sun (September 18, 1999)
reported on how the local residents felt about the Poe house. Some people
believe that Poe's ghost terrorizes the neighborhood, running across
rooftops and grabbing children to torture. A local man reported that in
August 1999 he looked the window to see a shadowy spirit sitting at a
writing desk. (Others have reported this, though Poe actually did his
writing in the attic.)
The Poe house is open to the public, though the hours vary wildly from
season to season. For more detailed information about the house, pictures
of it, and visiting hours the Edgar Allen Poe Society 's web site is an excellent resource.


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