Baltimore’s newest “Poe Toaster” is back.
The man of mystery, who in January resurrected the 70-plus-year tradition of paying tribute to Edgar Allan Poe at his gravesite, will return in 2017 in honor of the writer’s 208th birthday, according to a recent news release.
The tradition is believed to have begun in the early 1940s, when a mysterious individual in dark clothing began visiting Poe’s grave on Jan. 19 — the poet's birthday — each year, leaving behind a bottle of cognac and three roses. But the elusive visitor, eventually nicknamed Poe Toaster, stopped appearing after 2009.
To revive the tradition, Maryland Historical Society teamed up with other organizations, including Poe Baltimore, Westminster Hall and Burying Ground, and "The Mesmeric Revelations! Of Edgar Allan Poe" theater show, to host a national competition in search of the best Poe Toaster. A selection was made in November 2015.
The true identity of the newest Poe Toaster is still unknown, but the Westminster Hall and Burying Ground, which is home to Poe’s gravesite, is inviting inquiring minds and the general public to watch his tribute from outside the church gates between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Jan. 19.
Westminster Hall has also partnered with the historical society to host a birthday celebration for Poe at 2 p.m. Jan. 21, which will feature theatrical readings of Poe’s work, a musical performance by Baltimore Symphony Orchestra violist* Peter Minkler, a Poe-themed birthday cake, an apple cider toast to Poe, and an appearance by the Poe Toaster. *Correction: The previous version of this article wrongly stated Peter Minkler's title as a cellist. He is a violist. The Sun regrets the error.