An APOE-priate Weekend in Baltimore

Poe Wine Tasting 17

Sharing a glass of wine with Rob and Jen.

Last March, my friend Rob, Jen, and I bought tickets for the 2013 Cask of Amontillado Wine Tasting Among the Bones at Westminster Hall in Baltimore–a must-do for Poe fans (Poe is buried in the hall’s graveyard). Since Poe’s birthday was this weekend (January 19), I figured I’d share our adventures.

Currently, I’ve seen nothing to indicate that a 2014 event is taking place, so here are some shots (and video) from last year’s event–and a tour of the catacombs beneath Westminster Hall. The only thing missing was a visit to the Poe House, which at the time was permanently closed–the wine tasting and included silent auction were, in fact, a fundraiser with proceeds going toward getting the place back open to the public. And I’m pleased to announce that not just this, but all efforts were successful–the home is back on the map! Here’s where you can keep track of their hours; they’re usually not open during the winter:

On another note, you don’t need an event to have a great Poe-related or literary-inspired weekend in Baltimore. Included here are some other things we did to round out our very awesome break from the every day. Enjoy!

Poe Wine Tasting 1

Our tickets!

Poe Wine Tasting 2

No trip to Baltimore is complete–at least for me–without a stop along the New Jersey Turnpike to enjoy some Popeye’s.

Poe Wine Tasting 3

…and there’s my dinner!

Poe Wine Tasting 4

So, does this mean it’s okay to idle?

Poe Wine Tasting 5

Pressed pennies are a tradition in my house, and Rob had never made one. One of my favorite places to stop to get pressed pennies is either of the rest stops in Baltimore–the Maryland House (which was closed for renovations at the time) and the Chesapeake House.

Poe Wine Tasting 6

Jen in our hotel room.

Poe Wine Tasting 7

Kicking off the weekend with a bottle of Amontillado!

Poe Wine Tasting 8

A toast…

Poe Wine Tasting 9

…a toast!

Poe Wine Tasting 10

The next morning started off with breakfast in the hotel restaurant. There was another event of some kind going on downtown that day; it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend, so it was probably a parade. It was magical to hear bagpipes–my dad loved bagpipes, and it felt like he was there with me–apparently, there was a group practicing in the hotel lobby. They serenaded us through breakfast (no photos; it didn’t really feel appropriate to do that).


Poe Wine Tasting 11

We arrived at Westminster Hall to find that hors d’eouvres plates were everywhere.

Poe Wine Tasting 12

RavenBeer was on hand with tastings. The brewery offers several Poe-inspired beers; you can check out their website at

Poe Wine Tasting 13

The afternoon’s schedule.

Poe Wine Tasting 14

This shot of a belly dancer doing her thing didn’t come out well because I didn’t have my camera set for action; however, the colors are nice, and I think you get a sense of it.

Poe Wine Tasting 15

One of the Silent Auction tables.

Poe Wine Tasting 16

This is the piece I would bid on–a piece of Poe’s House on 203 Amity Street in Baltimore.

Poe Wine Tasting 17

Sharing a glass of wine with Rob and Jen.

Poe Wine Tasting 18

All the Poe Event volunteers were clearly in the spirit!

Poe Wine Tasting 19

Passed around throughout the day: shots of Amontillado. Nice touch!

Poe Wine Tasting 20

Me, posing with a costumed guide from Boordy Vineyards, makers of Poe Nevermore Shiraz.

Poe Wine Tasting 22

A sign beckons passersby to come on in!

Below: a local band entertains passersby with “Charlie on the MTA”–my dad’s favorite Kingston Trio song. That was really awesome. For the second time that day I felt he was with me.

Poe Wine Tasting 21

The TV Show THE FOLLOWING had just premiered on January 21, 2013, and had been much touted to appeal to Poe fans. Here is one of the props used in Season 1, which was on display throughout the afternoon. While I’m on the subject, everyone has been asking me what I think of that show. I made it through episode one, but it just wasn’t what I was hoping for; as a serious Poe freak, I wanted more depth in that department. The Poe part of it felt gimmicky and geared toward people who didn’t know anything about Poe at all, so after episode one I didn’t continue. People have told me it got better, but a show has to grab me and not let go. I don’t have time to see if something “improves.” It was still a great privilege to get to see this prop up close, though. Not many other people will get that opportunity, so I’m appreciative.

Poe Wine Tasting 23

The meeting point for the tours of the catacombs.

Poe Wine Tasting 24

Me and Fortunato from “The Cask of Amontillado.” I don’t know who this actor is, but I’ve seen him at Poe events in Baltimore before and he’s really good. In fact, this isn’t the first time I’ve had my photo taken with him and it probably won’t be the last.

Poe Wine Tasting 25

Me, Montresor (the other character in “The Cask of Amontillado”), and Fortunato. I won a gift basket of goodies from the raffle.

Poe Wine Tasting 26

Yes, I bought this wine! Drank it already and it’s pretty smooth; the empty bottle lives on my dining room hutch.

Poe Wine Tasting 27

Sustenance to get us through the Silent Auction announcements!

Poe Wine Tasting 28

I was the top bidder on a piece of the Poe House at 203 Amity Street in Baltimore. It now sits proudly in my home.

Poe Wine Tasting 29

The three of us pose in front of the Poe marker in the Westminster graveyard.

Poe Wine Tasting 30

Rob and Jen discuss information on one of the plaques in the graveyard.

Poe Wine Tasting 31Poe Wine Tasting 32

Poe Wine Tasting 33

Yeah, I know. Stupid. I had a little too much wine and was having fun practicing taking pictures of myself (it would come in handy many months later when I did my TV series for NaNoWriMo 2013). I’ve spared you; I’m only showing you one. I took WAY too many.

Poe Wine Tasting 34

Jen took pictures of me near one of the crypts. This one came out so well I’ve been using it in place of a head shot.

Poe Wine Tasting 35

Poe Wine Tasting 36

Poe Wine Tasting 37

One of the most fascinating things about this graveyard is the way the graves are positioned. To me, this tree growing so close to all of these headstones looks out of place…I’m used to seeing cemeteries where there is plenty of room between stones and full-sized trees. It’s also interesting that this little alcove isn’t exactly easy to get to, and it’s tucked away between the hall’s mighty walls.

Poe Wine Tasting 38

Some of the headstones are actually underneath the raised portions of the building. Here, Rob checks it out; he’s looking back toward the street near the hall’s entrance.

Poe Wine Tasting 39

Walking between the crypts, just to show how narrow it is.


A map of the Catacombs. Sorry it's turned on its side. WordPress isn't playing with me today.

A map of the Catacombs. Sorry it’s turned on its side. WordPress isn’t playing with me today.

Tours were offered throughout the afternoon, and finally, the moment we’d been waiting for had arrived! We were brought down into the catacombs beneath Westminster Hall. Here’s a virtual tour; but these should NOT be a replacement for an actual visit, because pictures can not do this experience justice. If you get an opportunity to go into Westminster Hall’s catacombs, buy your ticket and do it. It’s worth every dime.

There are a few captions on the following photos; they speak for themselves. And first? a video introduction:

Poe Wine Tasting 40

Poe Wine Tasting 41

Poe Wine Tasting 42

Poe Wine Tasting 43

Poe Wine Tasting 44

Poe Wine Tasting 45

Poe Wine Tasting 46

This is a section of the catacombs with a very low ceiling; several of the monuments in this area had candles near them (see prior photo), which I suspect might have been left over from a Halloween event (they hold special tours around that time of year). I wish they had been lit; this area must look beautiful in a very macabre way, and I would’ve liked to have seen it.

Poe Wine Tasting 47

Poe Wine Tasting 48

Poe Wine Tasting 49

Poe Wine Tasting 50

Poe Wine Tasting 51

Poe Wine Tasting 53

These cobwebs are fake–again, they are left over from one of the Halloween tours.

Poe Wine Tasting 54

A view of the graveyard from inside the catacombs.

Poe Wine Tasting 55

Poe Wine Tasting 56

Poe Wine Tasting 57

Poe Wine Tasting 58

Poe Wine Tasting 60

Poe Wine Tasting 59

Poe Wine Tasting 61

Poe Wine Tasting 64

This room actually took a bit of climbing to get into (see the picture before this one to get a perspective on how this is higher than the rest of the catacombs. There wasn’t any tape of anything across it, but now that I think about it I probably wasn’t supposed to be in there). It looks as though it’s still being restored or being used for some temporary storage.

Poe Wine Tasting 65

Poe Wine Tasting 66

Poe Wine Tasting 67

Poe Wine Tasting 68

This is an ice coffin. A full explanation appears in the next photograph.

Poe Wine Tasting 69

Poe Wine Tasting 70

This is the monument’s original Poe bas relief, which was replaced in 1938. For a complete–and very interesting–history of Baltimore’s Poe monument, visit here:

Poe Wine Tasting 71

If you’re a Poe enthusiast at all, you know about the Poe Toaster, who for many decades slinked to Poe’s grave in the early morning house of his birthday, January 19, to leave roses and cognac. Alas, this tradition ended recently, but the museum still keeps these relics of past visits.

Poe Wine Tasting 72

Poe Wine Tasting 73

Catacomb dirt on Rob’s jacket. It’s impossible to walk down there and not get SOME of it on you!

Poe Wine Tasting 74

Catacomb dirt on my jacket.


No visit to Baltimore–especially if you’re spending it doing Poe-related activities–is complete without a visit to the Annabel Lee Tavern.

Annabel Lee Tavern Magazine Feature

A description of the Annabel Lee Tavern from one of Baltimore’s full-color tourist publications that are distributed throughout the city and especially in downtown hotel rooms. If you plan to eat there, the place is pretty small and it’s in an old corner row house, so I’d strongly recommend reservations. Here’s their website:

Poe Wine Tasting 75

Many streets in the Canton area are filled with row houses that are in disrepair or are being renovated; many are for sale. Here, Jen and Rob take a peek into one that looked like renovations had begun but abruptly come to a halt. There was a for sale sign on it. I’d love to live in a row house in Baltimore!

Poe Wine Tasting 76

Rob and Jen at the entrance to the Annabel Lee Tavern.

Poe Wine Tasting 77

Poe Wine Tasting 78

Poe Wine Tasting 79

Poe Wine Tasting 80

Poe Wine Tasting 81

Okay, you should NOT miss Duck Fat Fries. Period. In the video below, Rob and Jen get their first taste.

Poe Wine Tasting 82

Poe Wine Tasting 83

Poe Wine Tasting 84

Poe Wine Tasting 85

This is the bannister for the stone steps that lead up to the Annabel Lee Tavern.


Poe Wine Tasting 86

I’ll be honest–it’s not easy to get into THE HORSE YOU CAME IN ON on a Saturday night in Fell’s Point, but if you’re a Poe fan, you at least need to walk by it. THE HORSE has been around since the late 1700s and it’s widely held it’s the last place Poe visited before his death. For a history of the joint, visit

We ended up not going to THE HORSE because there was a loud, live band and a long line of people waiting to get in, and that just wasn’t what we were into. I’d been there once before, and it’s cool, but I went in the middle of a weekday afternoon, which is probably the best time to go. So, instead, we hopped about some stores in the Point and had a really good time!

Poe Wine Tasting 87

I could have bought all the furniture in this store, this place was that cool! Here, Rob relaxes.

Poe Wine Tasting 88

I grew up around nesting dolls, so these attracted me right away: containers for munchies and measuring cups. I didn’t really have the money to buy them, so mostly I took the photo so I could remember to eventually locate them online and get them.

Poe Wine Tasting 89

Any store that uses books as decorations is awesome!

Poe Wine Tasting 90

If you know me, you know I have a thing for office products. I’d never seen post-its this funny, and I just got so silly I couldn’t stop laughing. Like, to the point that I couldn’t breathe. These were the five I purchased: THE SHIT LIST for my sister; PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE NOTE for my friend Stacey; DEAL WITH THIS for my boss Lisa; SERIOUSLY? for one of my coworkers, Ann; WTF for me. The WTF has little boxes at the bottom to check off: !, ?, or ?! (which I don’t use, because I think interrobangs only belong in comic books).

Poe Wine Tasting 91

We walked away from the din and spent some quiet time down by the water. It was quite peaceful.


I don’t even know what to say about this place except that it’s awesome–it’s also crazy-popular and they don’t take reservations, so if you show up on a weekend morning, be prepared for a long wait (which is, by the way, oh-so-worth-it). This was Jen and Rob’s first visit.

Poe Wine Tasting 92

At Paper Moon, odd art is everywhere. here, Jen stands near an old commode being used as a planter.

Poe Wine Tasting 93

Poe Wine Tasting 94

I’ve been to Paper Moon enough times that I can sometimes recognize new acquisitions. This creepy little naked baby doll and pig in a cage are new additions.

Poe Wine Tasting 95

Poe Wine Tasting 96

Poe Wine Tasting 97

The menus at Paper Moon are often old children’s books. The menu pages are then added inside with twine or shoelaces.

Poe Wine Tasting 98

…interesting decoupage going on on this book cover.

Poe Wine Tasting 99

This assortment of objects is on the ceiling.

Poe Wine Tasting 100

BACON MILKSHAKE! Features vanilla and chocolate ice cream (you have some choices on their menu). All three of us had to try it…check out the video!

Poe Wine Tasting 101


Poe Wine Tasting 102


This is a really cool second-hand bookstore that I always make sure to explore when I’m in town…I almost always find a rare treasure or two! If you’d like to know more about Normal’s, visit their website here:

Poe Wine Tasting 103

Poe Wine Tasting 104

Poe Wine Tasting 105

Poe Wine Tasting 106

Poe Wine Tasting 107

Poe Wine Tasting 108

Poe Wine Tasting 109

Poe Wine Tasting 110

About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies; her traditionally published books include a short story collection, THE SHADOWS BEHIND. She was the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She serves as co-host of the DARK DISCUSSIONS podcast, as founding editor of the dark literary journal 34 ORCHARD, and is a member of the New England Horror Writers. Follow her adventures at

Posted on January 20, 2014, in Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff, The Writing Life and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: