Baltimore's beleaguered Edgar Allan Poe House will be shutting its doors Friday, with plans to reopen in 2013 under the auspices of a nonprofit group hoping to increase attendance and make the city landmark self-sufficient.
The house, which normally closes for the winter in December, could reopen as early as next spring, said Thomas Stosur, director of the city's Department of Planning. Plans for the site are still being formulated by the nonprofit Poe Baltimore, which will oversee the house and work to increase its visibility and viability. Stosur said a detailed plan for the house and its operation would be presented to the city's Board of Estimates on Oct. 3.
"This is part of the planned transition for having the Poe House move to operating under a nonprofit entity," Stosur said. "We're at the stage where we're officially signing-off on this being a [city]-run property."
Baltimore officials announced two years ago that they were no longer interested in operating the Poe House and removed the site's $85,000 annual operating costs from the city budget. In April, a consultant hired by the city recommended that Poe Baltimore be established to run the house. The consultant also recommended that the house be operated in partnership with the nearby B&O Railroad Museum.
Poe Baltimore's board has met about four times over the past two months to formulate plans for the transition, Stosur said.
A consultant will be hired, Stosur added, to advise Poe Baltimore on how it should operate and what should be done to the house.
The idea, Stosur stressed, is to set the house "on hopefully a long and sustainable future."
Local actor and author Mark Redfield, a Poe Baltimore board member, sounded cautiously optimistic about the Poe House, especially if Poe Baltimore commits to raising money, revitalizing the house and making it more of a draw for casual tourists and Poe partisans.
"The immediate goal is to remake and reopen the house," he said. "It's not about re-inventing the wheel, but it is about creating a new, vibrant experience."
One casualty of the transition will be Jeff Jerome, whose 34-year run as the Poe House curator ends Friday. Jerome, who was told three weeks ago that he would be losing his job, said he hoped to remain connected to the house in some capacity.
"The Poe House is on the verge of something that's either very exciting or not exciting at all, and I'm sitting on the sidelines," he said.