Anyone who knows me, knows that my favorite author has always been Edgar Allan Poe. Poe would die on this date in 1849, 169 years ago, so I thought it fitting to focus this edition of the Tell-Tale Traveler on the city where Edgar Allan Poe died: Baltimore, Maryland. Baltimore is a city rich in history and fun fact, the only city with a Football team named for a work of literature: Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.” Baltimore is also the birthplace of the U.S. National Anthem and has been home to many other famous residents including Babe Ruth, Frederick Douglass, Billie Holliday and John Waters.
When planning a trip to Baltimore, I highly suggest you book a room at the Lord Baltimore Hotel. The Lord Baltimore was built in 1928 and boasts a long history of ghostly activity. The most well-known haunt of the Lord Baltimore is that of a trio of ghosts. Guests and staff alike have seen a young ghost girl, who they call Molly, frequently wandering the halls or rolling a red ball. Molly’s parents are believed to haunt the Ballroom and many have witnessed their spirits dancing the night away. As the story goes, sometime in the 1930’s, during the Great Depression, Molly and her parents jumped from the roof of the Lord Baltimore to their deaths. Other guests have reported TV remotes disappearing from their rooms, TV’s turning off and on and other objects that seemingly move by themselves. There is also an elevator that has been known to stop at the 19th floor but when the doors open, no one is there. Coincidently, the 19th floor is now home to the Rooftop SkyBar, which would have been roughly where Molly and her parent’s committed suicide. The SkyBar serves light food items and signature cocktails while giving visitors an amazing view of the city.
Any Poe-centric trip to Baltimore must include a visit to Westminster Hall and Burying Ground. This is hands down one of the most unique and beautiful cemeteries that I have visited. The church was actually built over some of the earlier graves but in order to respect the memory of those buried there, space was left between the graves and the floor of the church so that when one visits, they can actually crawl around beneath the church to view the gravestones. The present-day grave of Edgar Allan Poe can be found at the entrance of the cemetery complete with Poe’s image on the large stone. When my friend’s and I visited, we were eerily greeted by a Raven cawing from atop a neighboring building. I initially thought my friends were just being funny playing audio on one of their phones until I spied the large bird staring down upon us and the grave of Poe. The cemetery also hosts the original tomb of Edgar Allan Poe. When Poe died on October 7, 1849, after being found possibly inebriated, half-conscious and quite dirty outside a local polling location on October 3, 1849, a small tombstone was erected without Poe’s name, only the Number 80. The grave would become rather unkempt and complaints began to circulate throughout Baltimore. Plans were made for a new stone but that stone would be destroyed in a train accident. It would be another several years before Poe would receive a proper stone. A Philadelphia man finally paid for a stone in 1874 but even this act was not without its issues. The engraving erroneously has Poe’s birthday listed as January 20th, rather than January 19th and the stone was also too big to fit where Poe had previously been buried so it was decided that he would be exhumed and his grave moved to the front of the cemetery. In November of 1875, Poe would be moved to the new location with much fanfare, as the celebration was attended by high society members of Baltimore as well as famed poet, Walt Whitman. As one explores the cemetery, they will find a second tombstone dedicated to Poe, in roughly the same location as the original Number 80 marker. This stone was laid to commemorate the original location of Poe’s burial and has been engraved with a Raven and the most famous line from the poem of the same name, “Quoth the Raven, ‘Nevermore.’
Now that you have visited the tomb of Edgar Allan Poe, it only makes sense to head over to Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum. In 1833, Poe would live in this house with his Aunt Maria Clemm and her family, including Maria’s daughter, Virginia Clemm, who would also be Poe’s future wife. Poe would live in the home until 1835, when he took a job working in Richmond, Virginia. Maria and Virginia would join Edgar in Richmond not long after his move. The home is now open for self-guided tours and includes exhibits on Poe’s foster parents, his life and death in Baltimore, and poems and short stories written in Baltimore. It also features artifacts including Poe’s chair, lap desk and telescope. The Edgar Allan Poe House also has a gift shop filled with books, tee shirts, and other Poe related gifts so if you are a fan of Poe come prepared to want to buy EVERYTHING! The Museum also hosts the annual Poe Fest International on October 6th and 7th with the festival being described as two days of books, art, music and food, celebrating the legacy of Edgar Allan Poe.
Following your visit to Poe’s tomb and former residence, you must grab a bite to eat at the Annabel Lee Tavern, of course named for the Poe poem and quite possibly one of my favorite stops while I was in Baltimore. It is located in the Canton area of Baltimore and as you can imagine, everything is Poe themed including the cocktails. The dimly lit bar offers a cozy yet eerie vibe and the food and cocktails are so good! They actually refer to their food as upscale comfort food and that totally fits the bill. I dined on Jalapeno Fries that were topped with fresh jalapenos and a jalapeno aioli. It was so hot but so good, I couldn’t stop eating them. I also sampled the Resurrection Mac and Cheese and it may possibly be the best Mac and Cheese that I have ever eaten. Of course, I had a cocktail as well and being that the Raven is my favorite Poe poem, it only seemed fitting to sample the Raven cocktail and it was amazing. The cocktail contains Blueberry, Raspberry, Blackberry and Vanilla Vodka along with Blue Curacao, Cherry Juice and Cranberry Juice…basically highly alcoholic liquid candy and quite possibly my favorite cocktail ever! I’ve recreated it at home. I also sampled the Masque of the Red Death cocktail, and while not as yummy as the Raven, it was still fantastic. The Masque of the Red Death contains Blackberry Vodka, Pama Liqueur, Peach Schnapps and Cranberry Juice. I guess I really like cocktails with a kick of cranberry. My friend ordered the Edgar cocktail, if you can really call it a cocktail and though not for the faint of heart, it was still pretty fantastic too. The Edgar contains three simple ingredients: Lucid Absinthe, Hot Water and a Rock Candy Swizzle Stick. I took a sip and it was definitely a memorable cocktail so much in fact, that if I find myself in Baltimore again, which I hope I do, I will definitely be having dinner and cocktails at the Annabel Lee Tavern and you should too.
No visit to Baltimore would be complete with a Haunted History Walking Tour of the Fells Point. For those unfamiliar with Baltimore, Fells Point is a very historic waterfront neighborhood that served as the Port of Baltimore for more than 100 years but is now home to many bars, music stores, antique shops and coffee houses. I was even able to score a coir welcome mat emblazoned with a Raven. But back to the tour. The Haunted History Walking Tour takes you to many of the haunted locations within the old neighborhood of Fells Point. Our tour guide was fantastic and she even carried a little stuffed Raven for our journey. The tour includes stops at the Cat’s Eye Pub, which is supposedly haunted by ghosts from its days as a brothel, Bertha’s, the home of a small child’s ghost and a phantom gentleman that quite enjoys his pipe and also the Horse You Came In On Saloon, which served as the location of Edgar Allan’s Poe’s final drink.
Following the tour, I suggest you head back to the Horse You Came In On Saloon to have a drink and walk in the steps of Poe. Upon entering the establishment, you are welcomed by a sign letting you know that this location was indeed the last stop for Poe before he would be found ill and on death’s door. The Horse You Came In On is not located far from a house that Poe had once lived in so it is quite likely he visited the Saloon a time or two before his death. The Saloon is also the oldest continually operating tavern in America, having first opened its doors in 1775.The Bar is now a Honky Tonk and has live music several nights a week. The building maintains that old Baltimore feel with exposed brick and old bourbon barrels. During my visit, I sampled a lemon vodka concoction, while my friends opted for the orange version and by all accounts, both were quite good. The Horse You Came In On also serves a variety of appetizers and sandwiches including Poe’s Nachos and a hamburger called the Tombstone Burger. Many of the staff also claim to experience ghostly activity within the establishment, even lovingly referring to one ghost as Edgar.
After a Poe-centric first day in Baltimore, you should begin your second day by grabbing a bite to eat at PaperMoon Diner. This is the kitschiest, most unique restaurant that I have ever been too. Upon arriving, you are greeted by a beautiful garden surrounding the exterior of the building but you will also immediately notice something different about the garden…repurposed planters made from sinks and old toilets and unique sculptures and art pieces adorn the garden including a big pink and blue cow. The interior of the restaurant does not disappoint either as the funky vibe from outside continues as you enter PaperMoon. The walls are covered with Pez dispensers, mannequins, eclectic art pieces, and old childhood toys. There is truly something amazingly cool and random in every corner of PaperMoon. The food is also quite good. I sampled the grilled Havarti sandwich…which is basically a grown up and super yummy grilled cheese. It had fresh tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms and basil. I also had a side of sweet potato fries because honestly, one can never go wrong with sweet tater fries and PaperMoon’s were so nommy! They also have a caramel sea salt milkshake and though I didn’t try it, it sounds like a good enough reason to venture back to Baltimore and PaperMoon will definitely be on my itinerary when I do.
Once you’ve finished taking in all the PaperMoon Diner has to offer, you should head to the Charm City Clue Room near Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. This escape room company offers 4 rooms including B & O Railroad, the Spy Room, Dark Carnival and because it’s Baltimore, an Edgar Allan Poe themed room, which is the room that my friend’s and I attempted to escape. You are locked in a room that is designed very much to mimic a writing room for Poe and given an hour to solve various puzzles and riddles. I won’t give too much information, as I don’t want to ruin it for future visitors but the room only has a 35% escape rate and my friend’s and I cannot be included in that percentage, as we were close but not quite close enough to escape. It was still a great time and I would love to do another escape room in the future.
After the Charm City Clue Room, you should head to the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium located on Baltimore’s beautiful Inner Harbor. It’s a small museum but it boasts some very odd and interesting items. And because it’s on the Inner Harbor, the building is surrounded by a large green sea monster that looms over a broken boat where visitors can take selfies. I quite fancied the display with the Fiji Mermaid and the Shrunken Heads. There is also a T-Rex made of pop tart wrappers, rare animal skeletons and a display for the World’s Tallest Man. The museum is a quick visit so I definitely suggest checking out other locations on the Inner Harbor during your visit. There are several restaurants, shops, paddle boat rides in the Harbor, a Hard Rock Café and even Baltimore’s National Aquarium. You could literally spend a whole day on the Harbor.
That will bring this Poe-centric edition of the Tell-Tale Traveler to a close. I hope you feel inspired to take a strange and unusual journey to one of America’s Most historic cities.
Tell-Tale Traveler Strange Baltimore, Maryland Itinerary
2) Westminster Hall and Burying Ground - Edgar Allan Poe Grave - 519 W. Fayette St. Baltimore, MD 21201 - (410) 706-2072 – www.baltimore.org/listings/historic-sites/westminster-hall-burying-ground
3) Poe House and Muesum - 2501, 203 N Amity St, Baltimore, MD 21223 – (410) 462-1763 - Hours: Thursday through Sunday 11:00am to 4:00pm – Cost: General Admission: $8:00, Military, Students: $6:00 and Children Under 12 and under free - www.poeinbaltimore.org/museum/
5) Baltimore Haunted Tour - Tours depart from the sidewalk outside of Max's sidebar, 731 S. Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231 - (877) 293-1571 – Time: Saturdays March through November, Fridays and Saturdays July through November - 8:00pm – Cost: Advance purchase: Adults $14.00, Kids 12 years and under $11.00. Onsite ticket prices (sold before the tour, on the sidewalk outside of Max’s sidebar) All tickets - $15.00 exact change - cash only – www.baltimoreghosttours.com
9) Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium - Light St. Pavilion, 301 Light St, Baltimore, MD 21202 - (443) 615-7878 – Sunday through Thursday 10:00am to 8:00pm, Friday and Saturday 10:ooam to 10:00pm – Cost: Adults 12 years and up $17.99, Children 3 years to 11 years $11.99 - www.ripleys.com/baltimore