Westminster Hall and Burying Ground, Baltimore

Westminster Hall and Burying Ground, Baltimore

Since its founding in 1761 at the corner of East Fayette Street at North Street (later Guilford Avenue) in a landmark twin-spired Georgian architecture-Federal style architecture structure from 1790-1795, this "burying ground" became the final resting place for many important and influential merchants, politicians, statesmen, and dozens of veterans (officers and soldiers) of the American Revolutionary War and War of 1812 who were citizens of the burgeoning and soon-to-be, the third-largest city in America – Baltimore.

Today, this "who's who" of early Baltimore is overshadowed by the later presence of the promising writer, poet and author Edgar Allan Poe, who was buried here in October 1849, following his sudden and mysterious death after being found on the street near East Lombard Street in a sick and semi-conscious state wearing unfamiliar clothes. Poe was taken to the Church Home and Infirmary on Broadway (between East Fayette and Baltimore Streets on "Washington Hill"), where he died four days later. He was interred in the old Western Burying Grounds of the First Presbyterian Church. Sometime later, a small stone was erected at the plot in the southeastern corner of the cemetery, through the efforts of his relative Neilson Poe.

In July 1852, Westminster Presbyterian Church was erected overtop the graveyard, its brick piers straddling gravestones and burial vaults to create what later Baltimoreans referred to as the "catacombs." For years, it was thought that the Gothic Revival-style Westminster Presbyterian Church was built in response to a new city ordinance prohibiting cemeteries that were not adjacent to a religious structure. Research in the early 1980s by historian Michael Franch found no such ordinance—and revealed a more complex motive: The congregation hoped that the new expansion church would serve Baltimore's growing "West End"—new churches were then springing up in every corner of the city in response to a dramatic increase in population—and provide protection to an aging, old-fashioned, 18th Century-style "burying ground" that few saw as an appropriate resting place for the more up-to-date 19th Century.

The entire site is properly illuminated, and of course, in Poe style, the best time to visit is after dark.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

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Westminster Hall and Burying Ground on Map

Sight Name: Westminster Hall and Burying Ground
Sight Location: Baltimore, USA (See walking tours in Baltimore)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Baltimore, Maryland

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