A free, two-day festival this fall will help inaugurate the redevelopment of the Poppleton neighborhood where Edgar Allan Poe once lived.
Poe Baltimore, in partnership with La Cité Development, will host the first International Edgar Allan Poe Festival and Awards on Oct. 6-7, according to a news release sent out today.
The event will be held in Poe Park in Center West, a new housing development in the neighborhood. The apartments were developed by La Cité Development and another New York firm, BRP Development Corp.
The slight brick home on Amity Street where Poe lived for two years nearly met the bulldozer in the 1930s, when the slum houses around it were cleared to make way for new homes. But a group of activists rallied to save the house, and it was turned into a museum. It now adjoins the Poe Homes public housing development.
Enrica Jang, director of the Poe House, said she’s optimistic the new development will bring more visitors to the Poe House, already a site of pilgrimage for lovers of the novelist she called the father of detective fiction and science fiction in the United States.
“This is such an important new development in West Baltimore,” Jang said of Center West, adding that the author is buried within a mile of the home. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to open that area,” she said.
Kenya Brown is restoring the Edgar Allan Poe statue located on University of Baltimore's campus. She is using special tools, including a blowtorch to treat the bronze statue. (Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun video)
Representatives from Poe sites in Richmond, Va., in New York will be in attendance as well, Jang said. “Other places that were significant to Poe’s life will be represented here in Baltimore,” she said.
Poe died in Baltimore on Oct. 7, 1849 — and the event is timed to commemorate his demise, as well as his enduring impact on the arts.
“Poe I think wrote about the very, very primal subjects: love, horror and those kind of emotions remain just part of the human experience,” Jang said, commenting on why Poe retains such appeal, even years after his death. “Pop culture-wise he’s just really cool. The mystique and the mystery surrounding his life and his death, and the sadness that he endured, I think everybody identifies with that.”