The historic Poe House at 203 Amity Street lost $85,000 in city funding last year–they’ve been told to expect no further support–and is temporarily closed while EAP-loving local volunteers scramble to assemble funds to reopen the museum building to the public.
Enthusiastic Poe-studying students in Mr. Zimmerman’s history class at the Crossroads School in Fells Point have raised about $500 to save the house from closure. Local writer Rafael Alvarez, a former Sun reporter, now president of the Poe Society of Baltimore, encouraged the middle schoolers to take up a down-home drive, Pennies for Poe, inspired by historic events.
More than 150 years ago, local schoolchildren began collecting pennies to purchase a marker for Poe’s grave–you may recall, the author died scary broke and alone in 1849, at (gasp) 40. Finally, back then, a few businessmen got word and pitched in, bringing the grand tombstone total to $1200 and ensuring that the author’s grave would include a legit headstone to praise his name.
Alvarez has extended “Pennies” by enlisting several local establishments to feature a Poe House donation fishbowl or coffee can (see bar/restaurant list below). He’ll visit more city schools this fall to talk Poe facts and invite kids to fund-raise.
“Not everyone who comes to Baltimore confines their adventures to the Inner Harbor. Many tourists–along with locals–wander to see the more obscure gems of Crabtown, like the house on Amity Street where Edgar Allan Poe lived for a time with his wife and mother-in-law and is said to have written the ever-fabulous ‘MS. Found in a Bottle,’” Alvarez says. “We are collecting so many pennies that a search is on for a well-hidden, secure and empty swimming pool to fill with pennies. Pennies will save the Poe House as sure as William Donald Schaefer still knows where an abandoned and burned out car waits to be towed away by the Department of Public Works.”
A sizable swimming pool of change might just do it. There’s still a long way to go to reach the foundation’s $85,000-deep goal, so dig beneath your sofa cushions, pat under your car floor mats, and break the piggy bank. Help keep the horror master’s doors from creaking creepily shut for evermore.
Make checks payable to:
DIRECTOR OF FINANCE, City of Baltimore
put the words POE HOUSE in memo line.
Mail donations to:
Jeff Jerome (Poe House curator)
c/o Baltimore City Department of Planning, 8th Floor
417 East Fayette Street Baltimore, MD 21202
Or drop your spare change in collection jars at:
G&A Hot Dogs at 3802 Eastern Avenue
The Laughing Pint at 3531 Gough
Pub 1919 at 1919 Fleet Street