With Samhain season soon upon us, specters, spirits, spooks galore!
Conjure forth your syllabus to get the help you’re searching for.
We call upon thee, spectral scholars, those who haunt the Hopkins halls,
Whether isolate or with cabal, to meet within the lib’ry walls.
Together with your librarians, fend off academic pall!
With research guidance, they await, to heed their students’ desperate call.
Whether ye seek exoteric or arcane, Your cries for help shall not be vain.
Great tomes of knowledge, they maintain, of the mystical and the mundane
‘Neath eerie glow of candlelight and the whispering of ancient scroll,
They’ll illuminate the darkest paths, unlocking secrets long untold.
So, embrace this All Hallow’s Eve, as the ether gathers near,
Within the library’s cool embrace, rebuke, dispel scholastic fear!
And when your dark investigations
Leave you in a lonely station
And when research troubles haunt your door
Remember your librarians and whisper to yourself “Nevermore.”

And for this blog of fall-time frights, we’ll share with you some local sites
Along with eerie endeavors to fill your time in Baltimore with experiences steeped in local lore.

(I can’t stop rhyming, please send help!)

Edgar Allan Poe and Baltimore Catacombs:

If you’ve been in Baltimore for more than a few hours, you know of the city’s connection to and love for all things Edgar Allan Poe. The legacy of the macabre author’s life and works have resulted in all manner of sites and experiences. We have highlighted many of these in previous blogs that you can read here.

It would be wrong, however, not to add a little bit of Poe to your celebration of all things spectral. Once you’ve done that, read up on “The Poe Toaster,” a mysterious figure who commemorated Poe’s birthday each year with three roses and a graveside glass of cognac. At its core, this isn’t particularly mysterious. However, when you take into account that this tradition started in the 1930s and persisted for nearly 80 years, all while the identity of the toaster was never revealed, it contributes to the mystique surrounding it. Luckily, the library provides access to a great number of resources, including the Life Magazine Archive where you can read a bit about the Poe Toaster.

Poe’s gravestone can still be visited at the Westminster Hall and Burial Grounds. Don’t be fooled though, beneath the surface, there’s much more to these burial grounds than a single famous gravesite. Under the hall and burial grounds, you can find Baltimore’s very own set of catacombs, open for tours at various times throughout the year. Check it out here.

The Notorious Dead of Green Mount Cemetery:

Other pivotal pieces of Baltimore’s paranormal past can be found tucked away in the Green Mount Cemetery. If you didn’t already know it was there, you would be justified in being startled by the presence of an Ouija Board gravestone in the cemetery. Buried there is Elijah Bond, former Confederate soldier and creator of the mysterious and oft-maligned Ouija Board. If visiting the grave isn’t enough for you, you can head over to the place where the Ouija board was created – a 7/11 on Charles Street (not far from the Peabody Library!). Head in, check out the plaque, conduct a quick seance, and grab a Big Gulp – talk about a one-stop shop! While conducting a seance in a 7/11 may be frowned upon, the library has an Ouija Board from the 1950s you can use in Special Collections! Just make sure you close out your seance with “goodbye” so that you don’t infest our library with the spirits of Hopkins researchers past.

Green Mount Cemetary is also home to the gravesite of Lincoln’s infamous assassin, John Wilkes Booth. Piled atop the assassin’s gravestone you may find stacks of pennies – a tradition meant to symbolically avenge the murdered president – whose face adorns the coin.

A Place for Paranormal Presents:

You read that correctly, paranormal PRESENTS, not presence. You may feel disappointed at the dearth of souvenirs from Baltimore’s spookiest sites but dismay no longer! Hampden’s “Bazaar” has you covered. This gift shop is dedicated to oddities and the morbid. While not explicitly Poe, Bond, or Booth-themed, Bazaar is the place for you if you need an “Overgrown Cemetary” scented candle or a preserved fetal pig!

Take your Spooky Search on the Road:

If you want to get out of the city, there are also some fun options. The First Call Paranormal and Oddities Museum has recently relocated to Havre de Grace, and we all anxiously await its reopening. Until then, check them out for their paranormal events or schedule a ghost hunt!

Whatever haunts you find this Halloween, be safe, have fun, and then come visit us to tell us how you survived to tell the tale!