Friday, June 11, 2010

LOVECRAFT AND PROVIDENCE

About 3 years back, I went on a sad, geeky pilgrimage to check out Lovecraft's neighborhood a walk around his beloved Providence, RI. It was a blustery November day when I set out early in the afternoon. Most of the stuff is located in a tight clump NE of the Brown campus. It's a cool old area filled with kooky houses, windy roads and hills.

I took my camera along to document the sights, and with a crummy list of places to visit culled from the interwebs, got to it. I've posted most of the highlights here. Finally. I 've been meaning to show this off for ages, but just sat on the images for years. Lazy I guess. Now that I'm actually slated to live there in a month or so, I figured it'd be fun to show off my future stomping grounds (well mostly, we're located a bit North of here, but is like 2 miles.). So off we go! Warning this shit is nerdy saddo territory wherein I travel to worship hallowed ground.

St. John's Episcopal Church

I parked just in front of this church and figured I'd head up into the hill and loop back down later. This was a favorite place of both Edgar Allan Poe and Lovecraft. Ya know, hangin' around graveyards get you street cred. It is mentioned in several of Lovecraft's stories, including "The Shunned House" and "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward." I wound my way around it for a bit, got looked at funny by people in the modern apartments that overlook the graveyard, then struck North for Benefit St..



135 Benefit St.

Benefit is a lovely little old road with tons of olde tyme charme. A bit down the road was a huge yellow house. This was "The Shunned House" of Lovecraft's story of the same name. Well mostly. It was supposedly derelict and in disrepair in his day, but his Aunt lived there for a few years. Poison vapors, corse-light, mold, and gigantic underground humanoids! Yay! All in that there basement.



187 Benefit Street

Further down Benefit near an intersection, I came across this weird building. Lovecraft's body was viewed here at a funeral before burial when the property was known as the Knowles Funeral Home. Probably in that goofy bulge on the backside of the house. I found a neat bike path and snaked my way towards my next point of interest.



The Atheneum

Walking up on this place was a trip. The cool lamps and the triangular roof. Figures it's steps away from where the RISD kids take care of their day to day arty farty duties. It's a super neato old library thing that Lovecraft used to hang around a bunch. So did Poe. It's mentioned in "The Shunned House" and "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward." Inside was exceedingly quiet and heavy with that soporific aged library smell. I can name a few booky ladyfriends who'd swoon whilst within these walls. I soaked it up, checked out the lower level and hit the streets. The warmth of the place was a welcome break from the punishing cold wind I was dealing with.



The John Hay Library

So I exited The Atheneum and took a right up a steep ass hill that leads to the old college area. Basically, we're getting in MU territory now. Anywho, Lovecraft's house used to be right up against this place. It would've been behind the library from the angle of this photo. Was said that he could see the stacks from his kitchen or some such. Library has a collection of Lovecraft manuscripts that I will attempt to go breathe on. So long as I make my Fast Talk check...



Van Wickle Gates

Across the street are these gates that lead to the College Green at Brown/Miskatonic. A well known photo of the old man has him seated in the low stone bench pictured to the left. Yeah, I sat in the bench too.



H. P. Lovecraft memorial plaque.

Striking North now (I knew it was North because it felt like I was going up) I stumbled onto a nerdy memorial plaque placed just across the street from Brown on Prospect. It was apparently placed there by the city on the centennial of his birth in 1990. I stopped and read the inscription, which was from some poem by him. Maybe something to do with Yuggoth, Onwards!



65 Prospect Street

Always heading up hill it seems in this place. Gah. At the peak of the hill, pretty much at the highest point in the city is Lovecraft's last house (the one that was located behind the library). It was moved to this location in 1959. He lived there until his death in 1937. This place was used as the basis for the house of Robert Blake in "The Haunter Of The Dark". I nice little place with fun windows poking out of the roof. Finally on level ground, I set out to find a very unique park.



Prospect Terrace Park

Just a block or two (well I guess everything is just a block or two away in this town) from the house I found Prospect Terrace Park. This was one of Lovecraft's fave places to hang out and read. I plan on doing the same. It overlooks the majestic State House and is a rad little park that offers potentially dope sunsets. It's just a cool piece of flat land with stylish lamps and railings. I suspect on a misty evening this place would exude malignant shadows (at least in my mind) and dudes in trenchcoats which hide their tentacled arms. Providence's founder is buried here as well. It was also mentioned in Dexter Ward.



140 Prospect Street

The Halsey House was used as the basis for the Ward house in "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward." It's a cool old mansion with some overgrown walls. Supposedly haunted in Lovecraft's day. By now the sun was beginning to get low and the wind had kicked up. My frozen fingers got off a few shots, but I need to hustle down some hills in order to get to my final stop.



Little White Farmhouse

But, this weird ass tiny house in the neighborhood caught my eye. IN the middl eof all these lovely victorian, stately houses was this squat pile of goofery. Turns out it was used as the little white farm house described in Dexter Ward. I marched off to my car in hopes of beating the sunset.



Swan Point Cemetery

Yes, I had to do the visit the grave thing. I am a sad person. Fun side note, Swan Point is actually about a 1/4 mile from our house and located in the swank chunk of the East Side. It's a well wooded area completely surrounded by a stone wall, then a cove. Very tranquil, peaceful place. I had mapped out where I was going ahead of time, but apparently if you actually head to the office for info, they'll already know why you're there and tell you how to get the grave site. There's a big marker for his parents, then smaller markers for him and his wife. And once more, yes, I ventured further into saddo-ville by leaving a little Elder Sign there for him. Just in case some outer god jerks try and pull some slimy shit.

The sun was leaving me and I needed to get back in the car, warm up , and head home. It was an interesting day. If you hare a favorite author and come upon the opportunity to do a solo walking tour ( I stress solo/non-paid tour) of their old haunts, do so. And if you come up to visit us in Providence and have interest I'll certainly drag you along this route.

8 comments:

Chris Horse said...

That was very cool. I'd like to visit Hunter S. Thompson's property and soak in the insanity.

That and have a beer with Dan Simmons.

"The Devil" said...

Great post. Definitely I would be up for the tour. What a fantastic place for Halloween shenanigans.

Anonymous said...

Que bueno! I'm going to visit the Edward Gorey House this afternoon. I figure I'll hide in a cabinet until it closes, then stalk my shadow from room to room with a candle until dawn.

Though, it's a small house; so, I'll have to crawl around real creepy-like to make the most of it. The 20-lb cat that lives there should be a more worthy adversary at that height. But, whiskers burn quickly and a mouthful of whiskey behind a candle should prove effective...unless I get stuck under a rug.

readwright said...

I can't wait to visit Providence and see the Lovecraft route....er,and you & Jess. And am I one of your booky ladyfriends who will indeed swoon in that library? Because I will.

Remember back in college you gave me a non-Lovecraft Cthlhu Mythos short story and said you'd thought about me while reading it and *knew* I would love it. I cannot recall the name of the story or the name of the author, but it had to do with an exclusive sexy-times club that a man wants to join, except one of the initiations is that he has to rape a woman. He cannot stomach the thought of raping/traumatizing a random woman, so he puts on a ski mask and rapes his girlfriend. He gets to join the club and goes to an orgy where it is pitch dark and the men all just have to find random vaginas to fuck. Then a light gets switched on or something and they realize they are all fucking a giant sex monster that is all vag - hundreds off vaginas,no face, no nothing, just a pulsating vag monster. THE END.

I can only imagine you cackling with glee as you handed it over, telling me you knew I would love it.

Ack Ack Ack said...

Heck yeah. That was a Shub-niggurath thing in one of the "cycle" books from Chaosium.

And despite my vicious literary sneak assault, you still picked up that Arkham House edition of The Dunwich Horror for me from that rad lil' bookstore that used to face Subway in Newark. Hooray you! (it remains one of my favorite owned things)

readwright said...

That's because I love you.

Nick Storm said...

wow....rape....vaginas....NOTHING like that would ever be found in storyies written by the master.

That's sounds like hackish trash with no connection to HPL whatsoever.....yikes.

Otherwise...what a GREAT phototour and I say that from experience - Necronomicon 2001 (the last year). Freakin awesome.

Patrick said...

Sign up for the Rory Raven walking tour of the East Side he does every October.

http://www.roryraven.com/Ghost_Walk.html