Money woes could shutter Edgar Allan Poe house

The house where American writer and poet Edgar Allan Poe lived in poverty for several years in the 1800s, and which now serves as a museum, could soon be forced to close its doors for evermore.

For the second year running, the house, situated off the beaten path in a poor part of Baltimore, in the eastern US state of Maryland, has received no funding from the city, which has its own financial woes.

Baltimore's deficit snowballed to $120 million for the 2011 fiscal year, leading the city to tighten its belt and decide to fund only essential services.

"Unfortunately, the Poe house was not considered to fit the core services criteria," Baltimore director of planning Tom Stosur told AFP.

To the small brick house that Poe lived in from 1832-1835 with his aunt, grandmother and cousins Henry and Virginia - who later became his wife, when she was 13 and he 27 - the funding cuts represented a loss of $85,000 annually, or almost all of the museum's operating funds.

The museum has remained open to the public thanks to fundraising events and donations from Poe fans, and there is enough in the kitty to keep it up and running until the end of June next year, said curator Jeff Jerome.

Among the modest exhibits in the museum are crockery and glassware from the home of the Allans, the wealthy Virginia couple who took Poe in after his mother and father died; the notice of Poe's death in 1849, at the age of 40; a portable writing desk, and several paintings and prints.

One blurry photo on the wall shows a mystery man who for 60 years on Poe's birthday - until 2009 - left three roses and a bottle of cognac on the writer's grave, situated around a mile from the house on North Amity Street.

"We don't have a big collection," said Jerome.

"You get a sense of the poverty Poe was suffering through, and people appreciate that. You can see the walls that Poe looked at; you walk on the floor Poe walked on; you can go into the room Poe slept in - that's the experience we want people to have."

- 'Terrible and irreversible mistake' -

Poe wrote several short stories while he lived in the brick house in Baltimore, including one that won him $50 in a contest, a sizeable sum at the time.

One of the small museum's downfalls is the fact that it sits off the tourist trail in Baltimore, in an underprivileged neighborhood in a city hard-hit by the financial crisis.

A petition to keep the museum open has gathered 5,900 signatures from around the world - more than the 5,000 people who every year visit the house where the author of The Fall of the House of Usher, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Pit and the Pendulum and the narrative poem, The Raven, spent part of his short life.

"It would be a terrible and irreversible mistake to close the house," commented Ricardo from Brazil on the petition.

"This simple house is no less than an American cultural treasure, which must be maintained, wrote Michael from the US state of Georgia.

A limited edition print of a raven by a local artist is being sold to raise money for the house, a local restaurant has launched a fundraising operation called Pennies for Poe; and the city of Baltimore has hired a consultancy to come up with a business plan to make the museum financially viable.

And Poe fans are optimistic that a soon-to-be-released film called "The Raven," inspired by Poe's poem and starring actor John Cusack as the mustachioed 19th-century author, will help to save his little brick museum in Baltimore.

"It's going to be great publicity for Poe," said Jerome.

"This will encourage people to come to Baltimore to visit the museum, and Cusack is a big Poe fan. We're trying to get him to visit the Poe house in Baltimore to give his support," he said.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions