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 poured over manuscripts submitted in a literary contest sponsored by the Baltimore Sunday Visiter. Their unanimous choice for 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.