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Guide to Lovecraftian Sites in Rhode Island
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Providence

Providence was Lovecraft’s home for most of his life, although he spent two miserable years in Brooklyn, New York. For a map of the points of interest on College Hill (Providence), see the Lovecraft’s College Hill Walking Tour that was originally prepared for the 1997 NecronomiCon. You can find out plenty about historic Providence at the Providence Preservation Society and the Rhode Island Historical Society. For more photographs, take a look at Andrew M. Kuchling’s Photographs of Providence.

[Photo]     454 Angell Street (Map)
      I was born on the 20th of August, 1890, at No. 454 (then numbered 194) Angell Street, in the city of Providence. This was the home of my mother’s family; my parents’ actual residence at the time being in Dorchester, Mass....In the mid-seventies, my grandfather transferred all his interests to Providence (where his offices had always been) & erected one of the handsomest residences in the city—to me, the handsomest—my own beloved birthplace! This spacious house, raised on a high green terrace, looks down upon grounds which are almost a park, with winding walks, arbours, trees, & a delightful fountain. (Letter to Reinhardt Kleiner, 16 November 1916)
      The Lovecrafts lived here from 1893 through 1904, when Howard’s grandfather, Whipple Phillips, died. Lovecraft loved this building and hoped to someday have enough personal wealth to acquire it. It was, unfortunately, torn down in 1961.
 
[Photo]   Slater Avenue Grammar School, 200 University Avenue (Map)
      It was in 1898 that I first attempted to attend school....I entered the highest grade of primary school, but soon found the instruction quite useless, since I had picked up most of the material before. However, I do not regret the venture, since it was in dear old Slater Avenue (alas—to be abandoned next year!) that I made my only childhood friendship—that with Chester & Harold Munroe...In 1902 I again attempted school; & singularly enough, I went to the same old Slater Avenue edifice, which had now acquired a grammar department in addition to the primary grades. (Letter to Reinhardt Kleiner, 16 November 1916)
      The site of the Slater Avenue Grammar School is now occupied by “School One.”
 
[Photo]   Butler Hospital, 345 Blackstone Boulevard (Map)
      This hospital opened in 1847 as the result of a grant from Nicholas Brown, one of the wealthy Brown brothers. Lovecraft’s father, Winfield, was admitted here in 1893 and remained until his death from “general paresis” (neurosyphilis) on 19 July 1898. In early 1919, Lovecraft’s mother had a nervous collapse and she entered the hospital on March 13. She died there on 24 May 1921—as the result of a possibly bungled gall bladder operation.
 
[Photo]   Ladd Observatory (Map)
      The late Prof. Upton of Brown, a friend of the family, gave me the freedom of the college obseratory, (Ladd Observatory) & I came & went there at will on my bicycle. Ladd Observatory tops a considerable eminence about a mile from the house. I used to walk up Doyle Avenue with my wheel, but when returning would have a glorious coast down it. (Letter to Reinhardt Kleiner, 16 November 1916)
      The observatory was presented to Brown University on October 21, 1891.
 
[Photo]   598 Angell Street (Map)
      In 1904 the death of my beloved maternal grandfather broke up the home at 454 Angell St., and caused my mother and myself to take our present smaller quarters at No. 598 on the same thoroughfare. (Letter to Maurice Moe, 1 January 1915)
      Lovecraft’s home from 1904 to 1924, when he married and moved to New York for the following two years.
 
[Photo]   The Stephen Harris House, 135 Benefit Street (Map)
      The house was—and for that matter still is—of a kind to attract the attention of the curious. Originally a farm or semi-farm building, it followed the average New England colonial lines of the middle eighteenth century—the prosperous peaked-roof sort, with two stories and dormerless attic, and with the Georgian doorway and interior panelling dictated by the progress of taste at that time. It faced south, with one gable and buried to the lower windows in the eastward rising hill, and the other exposed to the foundations toward the street. Its constuction, over a century and a half ago, had followed the grading and streightening of the road in that especial vicinity; for Benefit Street—at first called Back Street—was laid out as a lane winding amongst the graveyards of the first settlers, and straightened only when the removal of the bodies to the North Burial Ground made it decently possible to cut through the old family plots. (“The Shunned House”)
      Built in 1764, Lovecraft’s elder aunt, Lillian, lived here from 1919 to 1920.
 
[Photo]   The Old Court Bed & Breakfast, 144 Benefit Street (Map)
      Dr. Whipple was a sane, conservative physician of the old school... He lived with one man-servant in a Georgian homestead with knocker and iron-railed steps, balanced eerily on a steep ascent of North Court Street beside the ancient brick court and colony house where his grandfather—a cousin of that celebrated privateersman, Capt. Whipple, who burnt His majesty’s schooner Gaspee in 1772—had voted in the legislature on May 4, 1776, for the independence of the Rhode-Island Colony. (“The Shunned House”)
      This is an attractive bed and breakfast in the heart of the College Hill district.
 
[Photo]   Hamilton House, 276 Angell Street (Map)
      William Harris, at last thoroughly convinced of the radically unhealthy nature of his abode, now took steps toward quitting it and closing it forever. Securing temporary quarters for himself and his wife at the newly opened Golden Ball Inn, he arranged for the building of a new and finer house in Westminster Street, in the growing part of the town across the Great Bridge. There, in 1785, his son Dutee was born; and there the family dwelt till the encroachments of commerce drove them back across the river and over the hill to Angell Street, in the newer East Side residence district, where the late Archer Harris built his sumptuous but hideous French-roofed mansion in 1876. (“The Shunned House”)
      Actually built in 1896, this French provincial building is now “A Senior Citizens Program Center.”
 
[Photo]   St. John’s (King’s) Churchyard, 271 North Main Street (Map)
      About the hidden churchyard of St. John’s—there must be some unsuspected vampiric horror burrowing down there & emitting vague miasmatic influences, since you are the third person to receive a definite creep of fear from it . . . . the others being Samuel Loveman & H. Warner Munn. I took Loveman there at midnight, & when we got separated among the tombs he couldn’t be quite sure whether a faint luminosity bobbing above a distant nameless grave was my electric torch or a corpse-light of less describable origin! Munn was there with W. Paul Cook & me, & had an odd, unaccountable dislike of a certain unplaceable, deliberate scratching which recurred at intervals around 3 a.m. How superstitious some people are! (Letter to Helen V. Sully, 17 October 1933)
      Poe knew of this place, & is said to have wandered among its whispering willows during his visits here 90 years ago. Last August I shewed this place to two guests, & we all sat down on an altar-tomb & wrote rhymed acrostics on the name of Edgar Allan Poe... (Letter to Frank Utpatel, 15 February 1937)
      King’s church was founded in 1723, however, the present edifice was erected in 1809. The church was designed by John Holden Greene and was dedicated in 1811. During the American Revolution the name was changed to St. John’s, and in 1929 it became the Cathedral of St. John.
 
[Photo]   10 Barnes Street (Map)
      As for the place—I have a fine large ground-floor room (a former dining room with fireplace) and kitchenette alcove in a spacious brown Victorian wooden house at the 1880 period—a house, curiously enough, built by some friends of my own family, now long dead. (Letter to Frank Belknap Long, 1 May 1926)
      This was the home of Lovecraft from April 1926 to May 1933. This house’s address was listed as that of Dr. Marinus Bicknell Willett in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.
 
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  The “Fleur-de-Lys” house, 7 Thomas Street (Map)
      His card bore the name of Henry Anthony Wilcox, and my uncle had recognised him as the youngest son of an excellent family slightly known to him, who had latterly been studying sculpture at the Rhode Island School of Design and living alone in the Fleur-de-Lys building near that institution. (“The Call of Cthulhu”)
      The bas-relief was a rough rectangle less than an inch thick and about five by six inches in area... It seemed to be a sort of monster, or symbol representing a monster, of a form which only a diseased fancy could conceive. If I say that my somewhat extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature, I shall not be unfaithful to the spirit of the thing. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings; but it was the general outline of the whole which made it most shockingly frightful. (“The Call of Cthulhu”)
      This building was erected in 1885 by Sidney Richmond Burleigh. Its front is covered in bas-reliefs - this one in particular was vaguely reminiscent of the bas-relief created by Henry Anthony Wilcox in “The Call of Cthulhu.”
 
[Photo]   Providence Art Club, 11 Thomas Street (Map)
      My mother is a landscape painter of no little skill, whilst my eldest aunt is still more expert in this direction, having had canvases hung in exhibitions at the Providence Art Club... (Letter to Rheinhart Kleiner, 16 November 1916)
      We went out to an exhibition of paintings at the Art Club, (the colonial house in hilly Thomas Street, in front of which I snap-shotted Mortonius last fall—I mean the fall of ’23)... (Letter to Frank Belknap Long, 1 May 1926)
      The Providence Art Club is still just that, and is housed in two buildings dating from 1786 and 1791.
 
[Photo]   The Halsey House, 140 Prospect Street (Map)
      A taxicab whilred him through Post Office Square with its glimpse of the river, the old Market House, and the head of the bay, and up the steep curved slope of Waterman Street to Prospect, where the vast gleaming dome and sunset-flushed Ionic columns of the Christian Science Church beckoned northward. Then eight squares past the fine old estates his childish eyes had known, and the quaint brick sidewalks so often trodden by his youthful feet. And at last the litte white overtaken farmhouse on the right, on the left the classic Adam porch and stately bayed facade of the great brick house where he was born. It was twilight, and Charles Dexter Ward had come home. (The Case of Charles Dexter Ward)
      Built in 1801 by Colonel Thomas Lloyd Halsey, this home was reputed to be haunted in Lovecraft’s time.
 
[Photo]   The “little white farmhouse” (Map)
      There is a little white Colonial cottage, just renovated for an artist, only three doors away at the corner of Prospect Street, and from the upper windows one may see the great brick Halsey Mansion, built in 1801 and reputed to be haunted. (Letter to Frank Belknap Long, 1 May 1926)
      Only three doors away is a little white farmhouse two centuries old—long overtaken by the growing city and now inhabited by an artist who still preserves a tiny patch of farmyard... (Letter to Bernard Austin Dwyer, June 1927)
 
[Photo]   The Providence Athenaeum, 251 Benefit Street (Map)
      ...our old Athenaeum, where Poe spent many an hour, and wrote his name at the bottom of one of his unsigned poems in a magazine... (Letter to James F. Morton, 3 May 1923)
      Providence, which spurn’d Eddie living, now reveres him dead, and treasures every memory connected with him. The hotel where he stopt, the churchyard where he wander’d, the house and garden where he courted his inamorata, the Athenaeum where he us’d to dream and ramble thro’ the corridors—all are still with us, and as by a miracle absolutely unchang’d even to the least detail. (Letter to Frank Belknap Long, February 1924)
      This library was founded in 1831, built in 1837, and opened on July 11, 1838.
 
[Photo]   First Baptist Church in America, 75 North Main Street (Map)
      The first objective of our trip was that supreme landmark of Providence, the First Baptist Church, finish’d in 1775. This is my maternal ancestral church, but I had not been in the main auditorium since 1895, or in the building at all since 1907, when I gave an illustrated astronomical lecture in the vestry to the Boy’s Club. We found this fane as pleasing within as without, the panelling and the carving above the doors being especially notable as specimens of Georgian workmanship. We ascended to the organ loft, and I endeavour’d to play Yes, We Have no Bananas, but was balk’d by lack of power, since the machine is not a self-starter. (Letter to Samuel Loveman, 5 January 1924)
 
    Prospect Terrace (Map)
      The nurse used to stop and sit on the benches of Prospect Terrace to chat with policemen; and one of the child’s first memories was of the great westward sea of hazy roofs and domes and steeples and far hills which he saw one winter afternoon from that great railed embankment, all violet and mystic against a fevered, apocalyptic sunset of reds and golds and purples and curious greens. (The Case of Charles Dexter Ward)
      This small park was one of Lovecraft’s favorite haunts.
 
[Photo]   John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street (Map)
      I believe I mentioned that the John Hay Library is next-door to #66—although I haven’t yet dropped in on any cinematic projections of books! There are, though, frequent exhibitions there (books & reliques of literary or historic interest) which I usually see. Not a very long trip to take! (Letter to Miss Elizabeth Toldridge, 15 December 1935)
      The library is named after the man who was the assistant private secretary to President Abraham Lincoln and secretary of state from 1898-1905, whose writings the library houses.
 
[Photo]   Samuel B. Mumford House, 65 Prospect Street (Map, Previous Location)
      Young Blake returned to Providence in the winter of 1934-5, taking the upper floor of a venerable dwelling in a grassy court off College Street—on the crest of the great eastward hill near the Brown University campus and behind the marble John Hay Library. It was a cozy and fascinating place, in a little garden oasis of village-like antiquity where huge, friendly cats sunned themselves atop a convenient shed. The square Georgian house had a monitor roof, classic doorway with fan carving, small-planed windows, and all the other earmarks of early Nineteenth Century workmanship. Inside were six-paneled doors, wide floor-boards, a curving colonial staircase, with Adam-period mantels, and a rear set of rooms three steps below the general level. Blake’s study, a large southwest chamber, overlooked the front garden on one side, while its west windows—before one of which he had his desk—faced off from the brow of the hill and commanded a splendid view of the lower town’s outspread roofs and of the mystical sunsets that flamed behind them... (“The Haunter of the Dark”)
      This house was originally built in 1825 at 66 College Street, but was moved to its current location in 1959. The room Lovecraft describes was his own.
 
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  St. John’s Roman Catholic Church, Atwells Avenue (Map)
      Of all the distant objects on Federal Hill, a certain huge, dark church most fascinated Blake. It stood out with especial distinctness at certain hours of the day, and at sunset the great tower and tapering steeple loomed blackly against the flaming sky. It seemed to rest on especially high ground; for the grimy fa├žade, and the obliquely seen north side with sloping roof and the tops of great pointed windows, rose boldly above the tangle of surrounding ridgepoles and chimney-pots. Peculiarly grim and austere, it appeared to be built of stone, stained and weathered with the smoke and storms of a century and more. The style, so far as the glass could show, was that earliest experimental form of Gothic revival which preceeded the stately Upjohn period and held over some of the outlines and proportions of the Georgian age. Perhaps it was reared around 1810 or 1815. (“The Haunter of the Dark”)
      Built in 1871 on Federal Hill, this building was unfortunately demolished on February 4, 1992. All that remained at the time this photograph was taken was the dark tower. Upon returning in August of 1995 I found that the entire church had since been removed, and St. John’s Park is now on the same site.
 
[Photo]   Horace B. Knowles Funeral Home, 187 Benefit Street (Map)
      When I reached here at seven-thirty p.m. Friday my aunt was in a painless semi-coma, and it is doubtful whether she recognised me. . . . The end was so peaceful and unconscious that I could not believe a change had occurred when the nurse declared it final. Services will be held tomorrow at the Knowles Funeral Chapel on the ancient hill not far from here—and close to where my aunt and Dr. Clark lived in and around 1910. (Letter to James F. Morton, 5 July 1932)
      This is the building where Lovecraft’s own funeral service was held.
 
[Photo]   The Gravestone of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, Swan Point Cemetery (Map)
      Hence the rambles-from which St. John’s (the former King’s) Churchyard and the ancient Congregational burying-ground in the midst of Swan Point Cemetery were excluded, since other statistics had shewn that the only Naphthali Field (obiit 1729) whose grave could have been meant had been a Baptist. (The Case of Charles Dexter Ward)
      When Lovecraft died in 1937, his name was added to a family monument just feet from this gravestone. It was not until many years later that this individual monument was erected at his gravesite.
 
[Photo]   H.P. Lovecraft Memorial Plaque, John Hay Library (Map)

I never can be tied to raw, new things,
For I first saw the light in an old town,
Where from my window huddled roofs sloped down
To a quaint harbour rich with visionings.

Streets with carved doorways where the sunset beams
Flooded old fanlights and small window-panes,
And Georgian steeples topped with gilded vanes—
These were the sights that shaped my childhood dreams.


(Sonnet XXX, Background, of Fungi from Yuggoth)

      Erected on the centennial of his birth (August 20, 1990), this plaque is just north of the entrance to the John Hay Library, where most of Lovecraft’s original manuscripts are kept.
 
 
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