City hopes to launch study of Poe House

Four companies submit bids to examine West Baltimore landmark's self-sufficiency

  • Four companies have submitted bids to examine converting the Poe House into a self-sustaining museum and cultural institution.
Four companies have submitted bids to examine converting the… (Jeffrey F. Bill, MCT )
March 09, 2011|By Chris Kaltenbach, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore officials are scheduled to open bids today from companies looking to study the feasibility of turning the city-owned former home of Edgar Allan Poe into a self-sustaining museum and cultural institution.

Four companies answered a December request for proposals for firms to study the issue, and the city's Commission on Historical and Architectural Preservation has said that all four are acceptable. At today's Board of Estimates meeting, the commission has asked that the board accept the four proposals and open sealed envelopes revealing the cost estimates for each one.

Thomas J. Stosur, head of the city's Office of Planning, said officials hope to have a company selected, a contract negotiated and the study under way by the middle of next month.

CHAP, which runs the museum on North Amity Street, has been told to have a plan in place by July 2012 to run it without city funds. The museum's $85,000 operating cost was slashed from the city budget last year, though the house has remained open with money raised through events and private contributions.

The four companies interested in performing the study include Chicago-based Cultural Resources Management Group LLP, Boston-based ConsultEcon Inc and two other firms, listed as Benefactor Group and Market and Feasibility Advisors LLC.

Dan Martin, the head of Cultural Resources Management Group LLP, said the problems faced by the West Baltimore Poe House Museum, which has been owned and operated by the city since 1979, are no different from those faced by many other museums and cultural institutions in tough economic times. He expressed optimism that a way could be found to keep the house open without having to tap city coffers.

"This country is full of wonderful old historic buildings and places where important things happened," Martin said. "Unfortunately, in many cases, the cost of maintaining these facilities has outstripped our ability to pay for them."

The goal for the Poe House, he said, should be "to see if we can find a long-term solution, and not to sound the alarm every year."

Poe lived in the Baltimore house for about three years, before leaving in 1835 at age 26 to move to Richmond, Va. The house belonged to his aunt, Maria Clemm. Another of the home's occupants was Clemm's daughter, Virginia, some 14 years younger than Poe, who would later become his wife.

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