The Battle Over Poe House, Baltimore's Connection To Its Literary Son
The small house at 203 Amity street (originally No. 3 Amity) was presumably built around 1830 for Charles Klassen. Late in 1832 or early in 1833, Maria Clemm moved in with her mother, daughter, perhaps her son, and her nephew, Edgar Allan Poe. Poe left this house in August or September of 1835, moving to Richmond, Virginia to edit the Southern Literary Messenger. Poe never lived in Baltimore again but he died in the city and is buried there. For decades on Poe's birthday, January 19, a mysterious visitor known as the Poe toaster left a bottle of cognac and three red roses at his gravesite (the toaster hasn't visited in several years).
The building was saved from demolition in 1941 by the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore. The Poe Society turned over responsibility for the Poe House and Museum to the city at the end of 1977 because they did not have sufficient resources, in terms of staff or money, to provide what the museum needed. City officials say they are not abandoning the Poe House and have sought plans to make the museum self-sustaining. They have received four bids and the winning bidder will be hired as a consultant to implement the business plan. The goal is to turn Poe House over to new operators by the time its funding runs out in June 2012.
The Poe House website addresses the situation with a page that says that it does not believe that the museum can become self-sufficient, pointing out that very few museums can survive on admission fees and souvenirs alone and that most need grants and endowments. The site goes on to explain that because the The Poe House and Museum is a small building it can't be rented out for other uses and has no other ways to make additional money. The Poe Society seeks help in trying to convince the City of Baltimore to reconsider and continue to maintain the house and keep it open to the public and gives contact information for Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.