Edgar Allan Poe’s Graves, Revisited

July 15, 2012 — Edgar Allan Poe’s grave was one of the first sites I visited for OTIS. And as is true of most of my posts from those early days, it’s a little painful to read and sorely lacking in photos. Just hadn’t quite gotten my blog legs yet. Well, I returned to Poe’s grave a couple of weeks ago. This time, I’ll keep the commentary short and include lots of pictures, especially since the graveyard itself merits more attention than I originally gave it.

Westminster Burial Ground is at the corner of Fayette and Greene Streets in downtown Baltimore. It’s about 225 years old and part of the purview of Westminster Hall, a Presbyterian church that was built about six decades after the cemetery and then secularized into an event hall in the 1970s.

Poe’s grave, where he is interred with his wife Virginia and mother-in-law Maria, is marked by a tall white pillar at the front corner of the cemetery, just inside the gates. He was moved to that more prominent spot in 1875 after being buried in the Poe family plot near his brother and grandfather in the back of the cemetery. That original burial location is marked with a raven-engraven tombstone.

That last paragraph is 100% of the cemetery’s worldwide fame, but the rest of the yard is one of the more interesting small cemeteries I’ve ever visited. It’s less than 40,000 square feet in size, with much of that taken up by the ex-church, but that small bit of space is packed with stones and mausoleums of every geometry, giving it a more genuine necropolis feel than many large graveyards.

Basically, it’s a perfect place for Poe.

It even has unintentional catacombs, thanks to the fact that the church was built atop pre-existing graves. To visit those, you have to make a reservation for the few times per month that they conduct tours. The rest of the graveyard is open daily, whenever the gates are.

Since my post on Poe’s grave five years ago, I’ve been to more than a dozen Poe monuments and sites on the East Coast. This one is still my favorite.

Grandfather Poe, whose genes carried all
the recessive macabre traits necessary to
make an Edgar Allan Poe.

The information placard besides this age-bent marble
memorial stated that it had garnered the interest of
Ripley's Believe it or Not! 

And I've yet to time my Balto visits
for when the Poe House is open.