Monday, January 02, 2006

The Haunting of the Poe House

One of my favorite topics is that of Edgar Allen Poe. He was a remarkable writer and poet and yet he was he most dark and gloomy of people. Even his death was weird, he turned up on a street naked and dieing after having been missing for three days. Know one knows for sure what happened. Let’s look at another interesting Poe tidbit…

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 along with his aunt, his grandmother, and two cousins from 1832 until 1835. (One of these cousins was Virginia Clemm, whom he later married. Yuck!)
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 the various Poe folk. 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 out 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.)

Poe is just another bit of proof that we do indeed live in a very weird world. By the way, 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. (

I’m Average Joe

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