Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum

Posted by junketseo in Baltimore Ghosts
Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum - Photo

“The boundaries which divide life from death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?”

Edgar Allan Poe wove Gothic tales of horror and madness, his strange and macabre prose evoking dread from deep within his readers. His legacy rests heavily on the amoral acts of vile, tortured villains and the spine-tingling lore of literature’s most horrid visions. However, the memory of Poe lingers not only through the text on a page but also through his presence felt at Balitmore’s Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum.


Though the 19th-century abode carries Poe’s name, many residents called it their home. In fact, the morose author only lived at the Amity Street home in Baltimore for no more than three years. That leaves many to wonder: is Poe’s spirit the only one still tied to the historic property? With visitors recounting experiences of being tapped on the shoulder or feeling an otherworldly chill in the dead of summer, it’s a wonder if Poe’s vivid imagination is forever part of the house, embedded in the brick and emanating residuals of his haunting tales. 


Who haunts the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum? Many will confidently exclaim that they felt the presence of the tortured writer, but rumor has it that an older woman is the building’s primary specter. Come see for yourself on a Baltimore ghost tour.


The Trying Years of Edgar Poe


Poe was born in Boston, MA, in January 1809 to Elizabeth and David Poe, Jr., a tragic couple that would never get to see their young boy blossom into the weaver of the macabre we know him as. A year after Edgar’s birth, David abandoned the family, leaving Poe, his older brother Henry, and younger sister Rosalie to their mother, who died suddenly a year later from tuberculosis.


Already marked by death, the morbidities of life stained Edgar Poe at a young age, but he was given the chance of a normal life when he moved to Richmond, VA, to live with his foster parents—the Allans. Though never adopted by the couple, Edgar Allan Poe was born, but he was still a far cry from a talented and known author. 


Despite being well educated, he failed to obtain a degree from the University of Virginia, instead amassing gambling debts and finding his heart broken by his first true love and fiance, Sarah Elmira Royster. Poe left Richmond, returning to Boston nearly 20 years after his introduction to death and abandonment. It was here that he scribed Tamerlane and Other Poems, his first collection of verses and his first taste of failure. 


Broke and with no outlet to turn to, having driven away his prosperous guardians with his questionable decisions, Poe enlisted in the Army in 1827. After several transfers that took him from Boston to South Carolina, he eventually quit, instead joining the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Aimless and unsure of where life could take him, Poe loathed his curriculum and quit, earning him a court-martial and formal dismissal from West Point in 1831.


Still feuding with his foster parent, he had only one place to go. Desperate for shelter, the young author moved in with his aunt, Maria Clemm, and found shelter with other family members on Amity Street in Baltimore. 


It was here that Poe shifted focus from poetry to stories, and the darkness within him took form.


The House on Amity


Poe’s brief stay at the house on Amity seemed to bring a touch of normalcy to the poet’s life for a spell. It’s believed he wrote nine of his earliest works while living with Clemm, including his first short story, “Metzengerstein: A Tale in Imitation of the German,” which was published in the Saturday Courier, and “Shadow-A Parable,” one of several works that the Southern Literary Messenger picked up.


Baltimore treated Poe well, at least relative to his prior years. While living on Amity Street, he met his future wife, a cousin, Virginia Eliza Clemm, who he’d marry in 1836. Unfortunately, life eventually caught up with Poe. In 1835, after the death of his grandmother and the financial backer for the house on Amity, Elizabeth Poe, the young writer was forced to leave. 


Though he left Maryland for Richmond and never called Baltimore his home again, a piece of Poe was left at the house on Amity. It remained there, even as Poe earned fame from ghastly tales like “The Tell-Tale Heart,” haunting prose like “The Raven,” and influential works like “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” Through Virginia’s passing in 1847 and his own descent into delirium and alleged alcoholism, that tie remained.


It seems too coincidental that Poe, having traveled often between New York, Richmond, and Baltimore, passed away during a stop in Baltimore in 1849. The cause of his death remains unknown even today, but its impact draws many to explore Poe’s former home on Amity. 


Scheduled for demolition in 1938 for a new housing project, the small home, where Poe is believed to have slept in its upper floor, almost became a victim of progress. However, feeling Poe’s connection to the building, both historically and physically, the Edgar Allan Poe Society stepped in and purchased the building.


The Residual Specters of the Poe House


Still standing today, the home on Amity became the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum. The infamous author may have only spent a few years as a resident, but his past, both sordid and favorable, remains figuratively etched onto its walls.


Ask many who have entered the brick building, and they may claim to have been touched by the tormented author or spotted him wandering aimlessly. Others feel his specter is elsewhere in the United States, either haunting the site of his former residence in New York or the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond.


But if Poe’s ghost does not remain active within the walls of the Amity home, who could it be that’s said to touch guests and charge the air with a chilled energy? Perhaps, maybe, it’s Virginia, gone too soon from the world, seeking the spirit of her long-lost love. Word of a grey lady spotted within the Edgar Allan Poe House, and Musem is common, fueling speculations that Poe’s young wife has returned to Baltimore despite having died in Bronx County, New York.


Would you like your chance to catch sight of the residual haunting moving through the grounds of the Amity house? As one of the most visited haunted houses in Baltimore, MD, you’ll want to not pass up on the opportunity. Sign up for this iconic Baltimore ghost tour and very briefly become part of Edgar Allan Poe’s legacy as you visit his former—or possibly current— home. 


For even more about Poe’s tragic history and the haunts he frequents nationwide, visit our blog and check out our socials on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Don’t miss out on an unforgettable evening — secure your spot in an Baltimore ghost tour now.