The Tell Tale Heart in Baltimore

Though Edgar Allan Poe most often refers to Richmond, Virginia as his “home”, he spent a great many seminal years in Baltimore. Here he met and married his only wife (his thirteen year old cousin) and first established his standing as one of the romantic period’s most controversial writers. The city is where he began establishing his reputation (good and bad) and it is also where he mysteriously met his end and was ultimately buried.

His aunt’s home still stands at 203 Amity Street (originally 3 Amity Street). The museum, likely a must for Poe fanatics and scholars, would have been a disappointment had we not had chosen this weekend to visit. This weekend was Halloween at the Poe House and featured a one man show beautifully acted with riveting emotion by Tony Tsendeas who for the past few decades has become known for his portrayal of the finicky, misunderstood writer.

The tiny upstairs room sat only seventeen in awkwardly placed metal folding chairs a few feet from a single antique chair. After a brief welcome by curator Jeff Jerome, the show began with Tony, dressed as a nervous 1832 Poe, wringing his hands building anticipation for the first few words of “The Tell Tale Heart”.

From the moment he spoke and began sharing awkward glances with each person in the room, he grabbed hold of the audience and didn’t let go until at last we were part of his wicked confession. This was no amateur performance, and at $5, it was quite a bargain.

The fifteen minute show lasted, without exaggeration, twice the amount of time it took us to tour the entire house. For die-hards, there are some pertinent stories about his time in Baltimore but mostly it’s filler to provide purpose and context for the house. To us, it seemed the house itself was really just filler between Poe Halloweens.

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