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Edgar Allan Poe's 200th Birthday

Celebrating Edgar Allan Poe's 200th Birthday in and Around Baltimore

From left: A marker on the grounds of Westminster Hall shows where Poe was orginally buried; a portrait from the Enoch Pratt Free Library collection; the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum in Baltimore.
From left: A marker on the grounds of Westminster Hall shows where Poe was orginally buried; a portrait from the Enoch Pratt Free Library collection; the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum in Baltimore. (By Rob Carr -- Associated Press; Enoch Pratt Free Library; Baltimore Area Convention And Visitors Association)
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Friday, January 16, 2009

Edgar Allan Poe is one of the most celebrated American writers, boasting -- among other things -- an NFL team and a beer named after his works. Poe died at age 40, and people across the country celebrate his birth and death annually.

This year is particularly special for Poe fanatics. In honor of his 200th birthday (which is Monday), Baltimore has planned a year of Poe events that will culminate in October with a re-creation of his funeral. Poe lived in Baltimore for several years and died and is buried in the city.

For the three-hour weekend warrior, we suggest a few Poe-related places to visit around Baltimore, as well as more time-consuming ways to mark the anniversary for die-hard fans. (We can't help but wonder what kind of omen it might be that the Baltimore Ravens, who got their name from Poe's most famous work, are playing for a spot in the Super Bowl on his birthday eve.)

A self-guided tour of Poe's Baltimore haunts should begin in the early afternoon, because the last stop, the cemetery where he is buried, closes at dusk. Begin at Poe's former residence (203 Amity St., 410-396-7932 or http://www.eapoe.org/balt/poehse.htm), a brick home with green shutters where he lived for a couple of years. It is now home to a museum that is open seasonally. This weekend, the house will be open Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $4; children 12 and younger are free. Visitors will see where Poe fell in love with his wife and where he penned "Berenice -- A Tale" and "Tales of the Folio Club." The museum also has exhibits about Poe's life, Gustave Doré's illustrations for "The Raven" and the writer's traveling desk.

"I wanted Baltimore [to be known] as the one city that went all-out to celebrate Poe's life and work," said Jeff Jerome, the curator of the Poe House and Museum.

After seeing the home, head to Annabel Lee Tavern (601 S. Clinton St., 410-522-2929 or http://www.annabelleetavern.com), named after Poe's last poem. It boasts a shrine to the late author, his poetry covers the walls and Raven beer is on tap. Drink a brew and fill up on sweet potato fries before heading to the last stop, Poe's grave (519 W. Fayette St., 410-706-2072 or http://www.westminsterhall.org).

Poe is buried at Westminster Hall and Burring Grounds, along with other famous Marylanders. Plaques around the graves make for an easy self-guided tour. A marker bedecked with a raven sits on the spot where Poe was originally buried. A nearby monument marks his current resting place. The hall will have a free Poe birthday party Monday at 7 p.m., with a screening of the "The Pit and the Pendulum." Visit the hall's Web site to register for tickets.

-- Amy Orndorff

Here are some other Poe events. Visit http://www.nevermore2009.com for information on more throughout the year:

EDGAR ALLAN POE BICENTENNIAL BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 1 at 4:30 p.m. Toast Poe's birthday at Westminster Hall with John Astin (of "The Addams Family"), who will present works by Poe. Also a performance inspired by "Some Words With a Mummy" and music. For information, visit http://www.poebicentennial.com. $30 in advance, $35 at the door.

ENOCH PRATT FREE LIBRARY The Central Library will open a new exhibit, "Edgar Allan Poe: More Than a Poet," on Tuesday. On display will be a lock of hair from Poe and one from his wife, a piece of his coffin and letters. 400 Cathedral St., Baltimore. 410-396-5430 or http://www.prattlibrary.org. Free.

POE'S FUNERAL Oct. 10 at noon and 4:30 p.m. A re-creation of the service (he died Oct. 7, 1849) will include a horse-drawn hearse traveling from his home to Westminster Hall, a drum-and-fife corps and actors performing eulogies. Prices and more information to be announced.


© 2009 The Washington Post Company

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