The financially troubled Edgar Allan Poe House got a lifeline from the city of Baltimore this week, raising hope that the now-closed historic site can be saved. The city agreed to pay the B&O Railroad Museum $180,000 to develop a plan for the home/museum to become a self-sufficient tourist attraction.
The Baltimore Sun's Chris Kaltenbach wrote: "The overriding idea is to turn the Poe House into a draw that will not only see increased attendance, which has fluctuated between 3,000 and 5,000 annually, but also make Baltimore a destination for Poe enthusiasts. It also envisions an annual operating budget of between $200,000 and $300,000 — substantially more than the $85,000 the city had been spending annually on the Poe House.
"'For years, Baltimore has celebrated its connection with Edgar Allan Poe in many ways, and the Poe House played an important role," Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement. "This agreement will set the Poe House on a new course toward self-sufficiency and growth as one of Baltimore's premier cultural attractions.'
"The plan calls for B&O officials to spend a year working with members of the newly formed nonprofit Poe Baltimore. It envisions an expanded website, logo, promotional brochures and orientation videos, as well as some joint operation of the two West Baltimore museums.
"After a year, Poe Baltimore would assume full responsibility for operating and funding the house. The house closed Friday after 33 years of being operated by the city. Poe Baltimore and city officials have said they hope to have the house ready for a spring reopening."
According to the Poe Society of Baltimore, late in 1832 or early in 1833, Maria Clemm moved from East Baltimore to the countryside, and her household included her mother, daughter Virginia Eliza Clemm and nephew Edgar Allan Poe. In late 1835, he moved to Richmond to edit the Southern Literary Messenger.
As the rescue plan moves forward, Baltimore's Center Stage is staging "The Completely Fictional, Utterly True, Final Strange Tale of Edgar Allan Poe," this month. Here's how the theater describes the show:"Hometown favorite Bruce Nelson stars in this tale of the morbid life and mysterious final days of Baltimore’s treasured emblem of oddness, E.A. Poe. By turns a madcap vaudeville and a touching examination of artistic aspiration, this new script playfully and poignantly adds up the sum of a life lived."