1,200 take part in ghoulish Halloween Tour at city's Westminster Hall and Burying Ground Traditional stops made at graves of Poe, others

November 01, 1998|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Under a luminous almost-round moon, about 1,200 curious visitors turned out in costume and street garb for the Westminster Hall and Burying Ground's annual Halloween Tour.

In this properly atmospheric setting -- brittle leaves underfoot and shadows cast by ancient tombs and weathered headstones -- the group stopped by Edgar Allan Poe's grave, as well as the crypts and resting places of another 1,000 Baltimoreans buried here between 1786 and 1943.

"I never resorted to murder. I always came by my bodies honestly," explained actor Tony Tsendeas, who playing the role of Frank, the body snatcher, gave a performance in the cemetery defined by tall brick walls at Fayette and Greene streets in downtown Baltimore.

The character he played was loosely based upon a figure said to obtain bodies for medical experimentation at the University of Maryland's Davidge Hall in the 19th century.

Inside the Victorian building that once served as a Presbyterian church, a trio of pipe organists -- Michael Britt, James Houston and Michael Gaffney, dressed in scarlet-lined black satin capes -- delivered Gothic-sounding music.

Visitors filed through the shadowy catacombs under the old church structure. Many observed what a plaque described as an "icebox casket," a 19th-century device for keeping a body chilled before it was placed in a coffin at the time funeral rites were performed.

Pub Date: 11/01/98

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