The John H. B. Latrobe House


J. H. B. Latrobe House, Baltimore, MD

Photograph of the J. H. B. Latrobe House (in Balt­imore, Mary­land), taken in 1983.

The home of John Hazelhurst Boneval Latrobe, this building is the only surviving site associated with the famous Baltimore Saturday Visiter contest that launched Poe on his literary career. Early in the fall of 1833, Mr. Latrobe, Mr. John P. Kennedy and Dr. James H. Miller met here to peruse the submissions and select two winners, one for fiction and one for poetry. The judges enthusiastically awarded Poe $50 for the best short story, “MS Found in a Bottle” and nearly granted the him double honor of best poem as well for “The Coliseum.” (Ultimately, the poetry prize was awarded to J. H. Hewitt instead.) After the announcement, Poe visited Mr. Latrobe at his office nearby to thank him and to collect the prize.

The three-story building is primarily red brick, with white woodwork. The front door is painted black. There are black wrought iron bars on the windows of the first floor. The historic plaque, mounted between these widows, reads as follows:

“The Latrobe House”

“On an evening in October, 1833, three of Baltimore’s most discerning gentlemen were gathered around a table in the back parlor of this house. Fortified with ‘some old wine and some good cigars,’ John Pendleton Kennedy, James H. Miller and John H. B. Latrobe pored over manuscripts submitted in a literary contest sponsored by the Baltimore Saturday Visiter. Their unanimous choice for the best prose tale was ‘MS. Found in a Bottle,’ a curious and haunting tale of annihilation. The fifty dollar prize was awarded to the story’s unknown penniless author — Edgar Allan Poe.”

“Poe had come to Baltimore in the spring of 1831, after his dismissal from West Point. He had no money, no trade and no reputation. The four years he spent in Baltimore were a period of intense creativity. His major effort during those years were sixteen tales he wrote for the Folio Club, an imaginary literary club of his creation. One of these sixteen tales was ‘MS. Found in a Bottle‘”

“The prize for this story, the public recognition that it brought and the lifelong friendship it generated between Poe and literary patron Kennedy helped to launch Poe on his brilliant career. He left Baltimore in 1835 to become editor of the Southern Literary Messenger.”

Mr. Latrobe was to recall in 1875, at the unveiling of the Poe Monument: “Of this interview, the only one I ever had with Mr. Poe, my recollection is very distinct indeed, and it requires but a small effort of imagination to place him before me now, as plainly almost as I see any one of my audience. He was, if anything, below the middle size, and yet could not be described as a small man. His figure was remarkably good, and he carried himself erect and well, as one who had been trained to it. He was dressed in black, and his frock-coat was buttoned to the throat, where it met the black stock, then almost universally worn. Not a particle of white was visible. Coat, hat, boots and gloves had very evidently seen their best days, but so far as mending and brushing go, everything had been done, apparently, to make them presentable. On most men his clothes would have looked shabby and seedy, but there was something about this man that prevented one from criticizing his garments, and the details I have mentioned were only recalled afterwards. The impression made, however, was that the award in Mr. Poe’s favor was not inopportune.”

For many years, this building contained the offices of Fallon & Hellen, Incorporated, a furniture manufacturer. It is now a private residence and is not open to the public.



The Latrobe House is located at 11 East Mulberry Street. (See map under Images.) From the Poe Grave: Go north on Paca or Martin Luther King Boulevard to Mulberry Street. Turn right on Mulberry, which is one-way, heading east, towards Charles. Proceed for several blocks and pass over Cathedral. Continue for about one block. The Latrobe House is on the Left, five doors from Cathedral Street, near the middle of the block. From the Inner Harbor, south of town: Take Charles Street (one way) north to Mulberry Street. Turn right on Mulberry, heading towards Charles. The Latrobe House is on the Left, five doors from Cathedral Street, near the middle of the block. Parking: Some metered parking is available on the street. There is an open lot behind the Pratt library, at the corner of Park Avenue and Franklin Street, with an entrance from Franklin (payment required). A much larger parking garage is off Franklin Street, north of Cathedral (payment required).

Note: Use caution when parking in an urban environment. Common sense dictates that you lock your car and keep any valuables out of sight.




  • Latrobe, John H. B., “Reminiscences of Poe” in Sara S. Rice, ed., Edgar Allan Poe: A Memorial Volume, Baltimore: Turnbull Brothers, 1877, pp. 57-62.



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