Poe's Baltimore: Poe-Era Sites
Odd Fellows Hall
30 North Gay Street

Then

Odd Fellows Tavern

Odd Fellows Tavern
Courtesy: Maryland Historical Society

Later in his career, Poe took to lecturing to make money. While a fair number of people came to hear him, he never made much money from speaking. In January 1844, about a year before his fame skyrocketed with the publication of "The Raven," Poe visited the Odd Fellows Hall in Baltimore. He delivered a lecture on the state of American poetry. His lecture took place in the Egyptian Saloon, and admittance was 25 - equivalent to about $6.00 in today's money. In his speech, Poe harshly criticized editor Rufus Griswold, who had published an "anonymous" article that bashed Poe's work. The feud between Poe and the editor Griswold lasted even after Poe's death. Scholars have shown that Griswold lied about Poe's drinking and changed old letters between the two to make himself look better.

What kind of place was the Odd Fellows Hall? For that matter, what's an "Odd Fellow?" The Independent Order of Odd Fellows is an organization like the Freemasons, Lions Club, or Knights of Columbus. They originally began in England, and, in 1819, a group founded a lodge in Baltimore. The organization built itself on a belief in "Friendship, Truth, and Love." The hall they had built on North Gay Street was one of the most unusual in the city. It's castle-like walls and turrets were featured on postcards and newspaper articles about Baltimore, like the picture you see here. Unfortunately, the old Odd Fellows Hall was torn down in 1890 when the group moved its national headquarters out of Baltimore. A smaller, less ornate building was constructed on the corner of Saratoga and Cathedral Streets.


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