Edgar Allan Poe lived in Baltimore during his early writing career. He shared a home in Little Italy with his aunt Maria Clemm, his cousin Virginia, Maria’s infirm mother, and two other relatives.
After being thrown out of West Point, Poe returned to Baltimore and lived with the Clemms in a small house at house at 203 Amity Street, now the Poe House and Museum. While living on Amity Street in the 1830s, Poe’s work began to gain public notice as his interests shifted from poetry to short fiction.
Poe subsequently moved to Richmond, and also lived in Philadelphia and New York City. But Poe was passing through Baltimore when he died in 1849.
On October 3, Poe was found semi-conscious in the gutter of Lombard Street near Exeter, an area now known as “Corned Beef Row.” His was disheveled and delirious, and apparently wearing somebody else’s clothing.
A passer-by took Poe into a tavern, where a carriage was called to transport him to the nearby Washington College Hospital on Broadway, since renamed Church Home Hospital.
As Poe was supposed to be traveling from Richmond to New York by steamship, it isn’t known why he was in Baltimore or what events led up to him being found in distress. Poe drifted in and out of consciousness for nearly four days, until dying early on the morning of Oct. 7.
Numerous theories have been proposed as a cause of Poe’s death, including alcohol or drug intoxication, cholera, rabies, mercury poisoning, and syphilis. Contemporaneous medical records of his stay at Church Home and Hospital were lost or destroyed years ago.
Poe was buried at Westminster Burying Ground, at the corner of Fayette and Green Streets adjacent to University of Maryland School of Law. He was originally interred in the family plot with his grandfather, Revolutionary War hero General David Poe.
In 1875, Poe’s coffin was relocated near the cemetery gates, where a large monument marks the spot today.
Every year on the anniversary of Poe’s birthday, a mysterious stranger known as the Poe Toaster snuck into Westminster Church and Burial Ground and left three roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac at his grave. This unusual tribute apparently ended in 2009.