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Baltimore knows its Poe House is a treasure, but now it’s officially Maryland’s first ‘Literary Landmark’

Baltimore's Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum has been named a Literary Landmark by United for Libraries.
Baltimore's Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum has been named a Literary Landmark by United for Libraries.(Jeffrey F. Bill, Baltimore Sun Photo)

Edgar would be proud.

Baltimore’s Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum, where the famed 19th-century author and literary critic lived during the 1830s, has been named a Literary Landmark by United for Libraries, a nationwide advocacy group and division of the American Library Association.

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The Poe House will be Maryland’s first Literary Landmark, but not the first involving Poe. Philadelphia’s Edgar Allan Poe House, one of several places the author called home while living in Philly, was added to the list in 1988. And a stuffed Grip, Charles Dickens’ pet raven and the inspiration (so many believe) for Poe’s poem (the one Baltimore named its NFL team after), resides in the Rare Books Department of the Free Library of Philadelphia. It was named to the list in 1999.

The national registry of Literary Landmarks, begun in 1986, singles out sites and objects with special literary significance. The first site chosen was Slip F18 in Bahia Mar, Florida, home of the Busted Flush, the houseboat of novelist John D. MacDonald’s detective, Travis McGee, in such books as “The Turquoise Lament,” “Bright Orange for the Shroud” and “The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper.” The list, which includes sites in more than 30 states, encompasses homes of famous writers (Tennessee Williams, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, William Faulkner), libraries and museum collections, and literary scenes (John’s Grill in San Francisco, famed for Dashiell Hammett’s “The Maltese Falcon”).

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Poe, an early master of literary horror and pioneer of the detective story, lived in the house at 203 N. Amity St. from 1833-35. He shared the home with his aunt, grandmother and two cousins. Poe, 27 at the time, married one of those cousins, 13-year-old Virginia Clemm, in 1836 in Richmond. She died in 1847.

While living in Baltimore, Poe earned money for his writing for the first time. Among the works he produced while living on Amity Street were “MS. Found in a Bottle,” “Berenice,” “Morella” and “The Coliseum.”

Poe died in Baltimore in 1849, under circumstances never fully explained. He and his wife are buried at Westminster Hall and Burying Ground.

The Poe House, which was saved from demolition in the 1940s, was owned and operated as a museum by Baltimore City for decades. It is now operated by the nonprofit Poe Baltimore.

A free dedication ceremony, officially adding Baltimore’s Poe House to the landmarks list, is set for 1 p.m. Jan. 19, not coincidentally Poe’s 211th birthday.

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