Get into the spirit of Halloween by visiting places that appeal to the morbidly curious. We know where you can walk through a spooky catacombs, view miniature models of death scenes, and see an actual human corpse as you learn about body-snatching.
The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death
The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death is a collection of miniature crime scene models on display at the Maryland Medical Examiner’s Office. They were hand-crafted in the 1940s by an eccentric socialite who wanted to support the training of homicide investigators.
Based on actual cases, the Nutshell Studies require painstaking observation — blood spatters to analyze, tiny knots to discern. The smallest detail could be very important.
The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death may be viewed by appointment. For fullest appreciation, bring a small flashlight and a magnifying glass.
Read more about the Nutshell Studies.
State of Maryland Medical Examiner’s Office
111 Penn Street
Westminster Burial Grounds and Catacombs
The Westminster cemetery, dating from 1789, was once far from the city of Baltimore. Now it is surrounded by the University of Maryland. In 1852, the Gothic revival Westminster Presbyterian Church was built on the property, creating a catacombs underneath.
A shallow path is cut in the dirt between vaults and tombs, giving visitors an unusual and memorable experience. Many notable Baltimoreans are buried at Westminster, including several heroes of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Its most famous resident is Edgar Allan Poe, who rests there with his young wife, Virginia.
Westminster Hall and Burial Ground
Fayette and Greene Streets
At the turn of the 19th Century, a group of prominent physicians began teaching medicine in a building on Liberty Street.
When locals heard that they were dissecting cadavers (UM was the first medical school in the U.S. to require the study of anatomy), an angry mob stormed the building and burned it to the ground.
A second building was completed in 1807. It was built with thick walls and a heavy wooden door, in case the mobs returned. And just to make sure, there is a hidden staircase to let medical students escape out back.
Today that stairwell is home to Hermie, a cadaver of undetermined origin who has been on that spot for generations, laid out on an old wooden necropsy table. A nearby whiskey barrel and plaque tell the story of Frank the Spade, the finest body-snatcher around. Bodies acquired by various means were shipped to other medical schools in barrels of whiskey. You don’t want to know what they did with the whiskey.
A visit to Davidge Hall is very worthwhile. It is America’s oldest medical school building. The lower Chemistry Lecture Hall features coal-fired burners where students did their experiments. Upstairs is a domed Anatomy Hall, in desperate need of repairs.
Davidge Hall is open to the public Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
522 W. Lombard Street
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