Please note that the Edgar Allan Poe House National Historic Landmark is currently closed for the winter. The house will resume regular hours again for the Spring 2014 season. Follow Poe Baltimore on Facebook and join our mailing list to be notified of special open weekends and events!
A National Historic Landmark
The little 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 (aged 43) moved from East Baltimore to the countryside. Her household included herself, her ailing mother (Elizabeth Cairnes Poe, aged 73), her daughter (Virginia Eliza Clemm, aged 10) her nephew (Edgar Allan Poe, aged 23) and perhaps her son (Henry Clemm, aged 14). (Henry Clemm should not be confused with Poe’s brother, also named Henry, who died in 1831. Little is known about Henry Clemm, who, according to Amelia F. Poe was born on September 10, 1818 and “died young and unmarried.” Maria Clemm rented the house primarily with money from her mother’s government pension, awarded in recognition of Major David Poe, Sr.’s prominent service during the Revolutionary War. (David Poe was the Quartermaster General for the city of Baltimore.) Edgar A. Poe left this house in August or September of 1835, moving to Richmond, Virginia to edit the Southern Literary Messenger. About the same time, Elizabeth Cairnes Poe died and her pension stopped. Maria was quickly unable to cover the rent and had no option other than to move. Edgar’s cousin Neilson Poe, who lived in Baltimore and had married Virginia’s half-sister, offered to take in both Virginia and Maria. Edgar, fearing that he was losing his little family, proposed to Virginia in a remarkably emotional letter (August 29, 1835, Ostrom, Letters, pp. 69-71). She accepted and by October 7, 1835 Virginia and Maria moved with Poe to Richmond. This building was saved from demolition in 1941 by the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore.
The above photograph was taken around 1980, showing the Baltimore Poe House as it appears today. To the left is a row of houses erected in 1938 under the Housing Authority of the city of Baltimore. The second half of the duplex, which would have been on the left when Poe lived here, was removed during construction of these newer homes.