Friday, September 25, 2009

Haunted Places In Baltimore

Edgar Allen Poe House
Veiled in myth and melancholy, Poe's life and death has held a fascination for many in Baltimore, where he experienced his first success and where he died of "congestion of the brain" in 1849. He lived here with his cousin, Virginia, and his aunt, Maria, from 1832 to 1835. While living in Baltimore, he wrote one of his first horror stories, "Berenice," as well as "MS Found in a Bottle," which he submitted to the Baltimore Saturday Visitor, winning a $50 prize. He spent most of his time here at 203 Amity Street, which is open to the public for limited periods on the weekends.
Sightings of Poe over the years have been reported.
The house stands next to the Edgar Allen Poe Homes, the first public housing project in Baltimore, and stories abound about the spirit of "Mr. Eddie," who watches over the house and nearby neighborhood. Some have even reported seeing a woman's ghost in the house.

Poe was buried in Westminster Church Cemetery at Fayette and Green, a short walk from the Amity Street house. Fans and friends of Poe erected a proper monument in 1875 - the original stone was destroyed in a freak train accident - with money raised by Western Female High School schoolteacher Sarah Sigourney Rice and local school children (assisted by a generous donation from a local citizen).

You can visit the grave between dawn and dusk - Virginia and Mrs. Clemm are also buried there. Every year a mysterious person brings a bottle of cognac and a single red rose. On Halloween fans gather for an evening of readings, complete with tours of the catacombs under the church. Both the house and cemetery are located in the western side of downtown Baltimore, an area easily accessible by bus. (For information on the graveyard, call 410-706-2072).

Traditionally, visitors leave a few coins on the grave. You might want to take along a package of Tender Vittles to feed the number of cats that have taken it upon themselves to watch over the cemetery. Among them is a young black cat that sometimes suns himself on the grass.

Inner Harbor
At the Inner Harbor, you can feast your eyes on Harborplace, have a snack, cool off by the water, and indulge in a bit of ghosthunting. The USS Constellation, which saw service from 1854 through the Civil War and until World War II, has been restored and is open again to the public for tours. While you're walking around this magnificent ship, which helped to break up the slave trade and transported food to help famine victims in Ireland, keep a lookout for apparitions.

Back in 1955, a photograph, taken by a Naval lieutenant commander and published in Baltimore's local newspaper, The Sun, seems to show a figure standing on the deck - perhaps the spirit of a young Naval officer or seaman who lost his life in service to his country. Those who've followed the Constellation's history tell a story of a priest who went on the ship by himself and was guided around by an older man with a great knowledge of the ship. He later found out that no such person worked as a guide.
Other folks have reported hearing "strange noises" and seeing "strange shapes." Two great scholars of the supernatural, Hans Holzer, ghosthunter, and Sybil Leek, self-proclaimed witch, both visited the ship to commune with the spirits. You can do the same or just enjoy walking the deck of this ship, which has survived pitch battles and the ravages of time. Bring your camera and see if you can catch a glimpse of the spirits on film.

Fort McHenry
Perhaps no landmark is more precious to Baltimore than Fort McHenry, where a battle that marked a turning point not only in Maryland's history, but in America's history, took place. At Fort McHenry the ill-equipped, overmatched American forces held out against the British Army and Navy and saved the new young nation in the War of 1812.
Everyone knows the story of the young lawyer, Francis Scott Key, who, while detained aboard a treaty ship in the harbor, saw that the flag still flew over the embattled fort and wrote the song that would later become our national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Not many know about young Lieutenant Levi Claggett, one of the casualties of the battle - killed, with several of his men, during the shelling of his gun emplacement. He could be one of the spirits haunting the old fort.
During the Civil War many people were detained in the dungeons, which are open today for viewing. One is reported to have killed himself while there. He may be another unquiet spirit.
Rangers at the Fort report hearing footsteps, windows being opened and closed, doors slamming. They've allegedly seen lights turned back on after they've turned them off. No one speaks officially about the haunting, but many people believe that spirits reside there. Even if all the reports can be explained away logically, they still give one pause. Fort McHenry can be wonderfully eerie, especially when you look into the cells or the quarters and see the places where people resided for long periods.

Greenmount Cemetery
The Greenmount Cemetery has its share of strange phenomena, both confirmed and unconfirmed. For instance, Allen Dulles, who headed the Central Intelligence Agency, is buried there.
In addition, Jacques Kelly, a local historian and writer, is rumored to have once been locked in at the Greenmount Cemetery.

Fells Point

Ghosts are also rumored to walk the streets of Fells Point. One is either Edward or William Fell, namesakes and founders of the area. One of the brothers has been spotted, according to neighborhood legend, roaming Shakespeare Street after last call.