January 19, 2008 – The 199th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allen Poe.
One of the annual news “fillers” is the appearance and action of a mystery man who, on the anniversary of Edgar Allen Poe’s birth, anonymously places a partially full bottle of cognac and three red roses on Poe’s grave in Baltimore. With a desire to get out of the house and do something interesting, my spouse and I decided to spend Poe’s birthday visiting his grave and other Poe-related sites in Baltimore. Not much of the day progressed as expected.
Westminster Hall was easy enough to find. Not far from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, Westminster Hall was formerly Westminster Presbyterian Church. The graveyard existed before the church was built, and that has got to be an interesting story. I’ll have to delve into that later. What that means today is that under the front steps and porch to Westminster Hall (no longer functioning as a church) are graves and headstones. Under the church, in an area now called “catacombs” are graves and headstones. Nearly every portion of the grounds surrounding the building are graves and stones and crypts.
It was a cold, breezy day, and that cold kept our visit relatively short … only about 30 minutes.
Poe’s memorial was right at the entrance gate, and it was festooned with flowers, notes, pennies, and other tokens of remembrances. (The bottle of cognac was gone.)
Wandering around the graveyard, we found the graves of some of Baltimore’s notables from the 1800s. We saw Poe’s original grave, further back in the graveyard. One raised marble horizontal slab marker was bowed as if it were made of wood.
We noted a moving story of a woman who mirrored her time with the death of six of her children in a 12 year period of time. It seems that infant mortality was around 33% in those times. Some of the graves for her children are pictured here.
Our visit rekindled our interest in old cemeteries and graveyards.
The rest of the day was spent chasing down local “watering holes” with Poe themes. The two we tried were closed until later in the evening. One was setting up for a Poe birthday celebration. The other was allegedly the place Poe fell ill before his death.
This was a nice day.