Edgar Allan Poe’s grave site and memorial is not only a popular tourist spot in Baltimore it’s also host to parties in Poe’s honor every Hallowe’en and every year on the great poet’s January 19th birthday. What’s more, in recent years it’s gained additional notoriety for the visitations (or now lack of visitations) of a mysterious man known as the “Poe Toaster.”
The grave site is located in Wesminster Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland. Interestingly, there are two grave sites that can be visited: his original resting place in the back rear corner of Westminter Cemetery (which still has a tombstone marking the spot) and the spot in the front of the church where he was re-buried years later with a headstone more befitting of his historical importance. The marble monument marking the grave is over 80 inches tall and features a bas-relief bust of Poe. (Another interesting bit of trivia: an incorrect date was engraved on the memorial. It says Poe was born on the 20th when he was actually born on the 19th.)
The notorious “Poe Toaster” is a man who, since before the 1940′s, has been visiting the grave site on Poe’s birthday every January 19th to leave three roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac. Without explanation the man stopped showing up in 2010, ending an over 80-year tradition. This legend of this figure has been so tied to the story of the monument in recent year that’s it’s led to several “Faux Toasters” attempts to resume the tradition. Poe House and Museum curator Jeff Jerome, however, has been quoted as saying that “it’s obvious that this tribute is over with, and we should let it die a peaceful death.” As to the meaning of the roses and the cognac? Here’s Wikipedia’s explanation:
“The roses were believed to represent Poe, his wife Virginia, and his mother-in-law Maria Clemm, all three of whom were originally interred at the site. The significance of the cognac is uncertain, as it does not feature in Poe’s works (as would, for example, amontillado); but a note left at the 2004 visitation suggested that the cognac may have represented a tradition of the Toaster’s family rather than Poe’s.”
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