Echoes of Poe in Richmond and Baltimore
Those interested in re-creating Poe's final trip can visit two museums in Baltimore and Richmond bookending possibly the most macabre literary trail in the Mid-Atlantic.
RichmondPoe, who spent much of his youth in Richmond, has many links to the present-day city.
When the building that once housed the Southern Literary Messenger, an arts publication for which Poe served as editor and critic, was demolished, the Poe Museum salvaged enough of the bricks to build a modest shrine to the author. The shrine stands in the museum's backyard garden, near what was once a booming district of manufacturing and slave trafficking but is now a burgeoning neighborhood of lofts and restaurants.
BaltimoreThere's a punny opening to an episode of The Wire in which the setup question is, "Where's the Poe House?" Well, the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum is in west Baltimore. (The punchline is, "Look around. Take your pick.")
Baltimore's Poe House is sparsely appointed with items that belonged to the author: a telescope, a chair, and a lap desk. The house retains its original floors, fireplace mantels, and walls. Standing inside, you get an idea of the cold and cramped conditions favorable to long periods of rumination and writing.
Poe lived there in his 20s with family members, including his cousin and future wife, Virginia Eliza Clemm. A few of Poe's works were penned in the house, including "MS. Found in a Bottle" and "The Visionary." The top section is a low-ceilinged, spade-shaped room fashioned into a writer's space. It was where Poe most likely slept and worked. To see it, you must scale a narrow stairway that twists, and, as you climb, your breathing quickens, and you surprise yourself by needing to reach out and brace against the walls for comfort.