Wednesday, December 28, 2016


MdHS Header

The Next Appearance of the New
"Poe Toaster"

Mysterious Figure to Make Nighttime Tribute

On Poe's Birthday at Westminster Hall & Burying Ground

Plus: Birthday Observance Celebrations Planned For January 21

Original Gave

The mysterious new Poe Toaster will be appearing at night on Edgar Allan Poe's Birthday, repeating a 70+ year tradition that was revived in 2016. The Poe Toaster will make his tribute to Edgar Allan Poe in honor of the writer's 208th birthday. Westminster Hall & Burying Ground welcomes the general public to witness the tribute from outside of the church gates between 6 and 7 pm on January 19, 2017.

In addition, Westminster Hall & Burying Ground, in partnership with the Maryland Historical Society, will be hosting Edgar Allan Poe's Birthday Observance at 2 pm on Saturday, January 21, 2017. There will be theatrical readings of Poe's works, a musical performance from BSO cellist Peter Minkler, the traditional Apple Cider Toast to Poe, a Poe themed birthday cake and more. The new Poe Toaster will also make an appearance at the conclusion of the event.

"Baltimore holds a special place in its heart for Edgar Allan Poe," says Maryland Historical Society Director of Programs & Strategic Initiatives Katie Caljean. "We are proud to be involved in this event."

About The New Poe Toaster

In November 2015, an audience of more than 100 witnessed performances from finalists at The Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore (201 W. Monument Street), and selected the new "Poe Toaster" through a secret ballot.

Applications were submitted from artists from around the country. Each of the finalists performed their tributes to Poe anonymously. Their true identity, like the original Poe Toaster, remains a mystery.

The Maryland Historical Society partnered with Poe Baltimore, Westminster Hall and Burying Ground, and The Mesmeric Revelations! Of Edgar Allan Poe to issue a call for submissions from artists to perform as their own original vision and interpretation of the Poe Toaster. The New Poe Toaster made his first tribute at Poe's grave in January 2016.

About The Original Poe Toaster

Poe Toaster Life Magazine

An infrared image of the Original "Poe Toaster", taken by Bill Ballenberg, which appeared in Life Magazine

Beginning in the 1940s, a mysterious individual began visiting Edgar Allan Poe's original gravesite at Westminster Hall every year on the author's birthday, January 19th. Later dubbed the "Poe Toaster," the man began a tradition in which he would sneak into the cemetery at night while dressed in black clothing, a hat, and a white scarf.

Upon arriving at Poe's grave, the toaster would place 3 roses beside it with a bottle of cognac. The roses are believed to be in memory of the three individuals buried at the site of the Poe Monument: Poe, his wife Virginia, and his mother-in-law Maria Clemm. After toasting Poe, the man would then place the bottle next to the grave before disappearing into the night. The original Poe Toaster has not appeared since 2009.

About Edgar Allan Poe

Poe Owned By Maria Clemm

Edgar Allan Poe, not dated, Cased Photograph Collection, CSPH 277, Maryland Historical Society

Edgar Allan Poe may have been born in Boston in 1809, but he died in Baltimore, under mysterious circumstances, on October 7, 1849. And it was in Baltimore that Poe found his first critical success, by winning a short story contest sponsored by the Baltimore Sunday Visiter in 1833. Baltimore was also where Poe was living when he published his first horror story, "Berenice," in 1835.

Now on view outside the Maryland Historical Society's H. Furlong Baldwin Library is a rare daguerreotype of Poe, known as the "Painter" Daguerreotype (pictured at right) that was once owned by Poe's mother-in-law, Maria Clemm.

About The Maryland Historical Society
Founded in 1844, The Maryland Historical Society Museum and Library occupies an entire city block in the Mount Vernon district of Baltimore. 

The society's mission is to "collect, preserve, and interpret the objects and materials that reflect Maryland's diverse cultural heritage." The Society is home to the original manuscript of the Star-Spangled Banner and publishes a quarterly titled "Maryland Historical Magazine." Visit

The Maryland Historical Society | | 201 W. Monument Street, Baltimore MD 21201 |