• Matt

H.P. LOVECRAFT - BIOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS

Updated: May 19


Lovecraft, June 1934. Portrait taken by Lucius B. Truesdell in Florida

Howard Phillips Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) was an American writer of weird, science, fantasy, and horror fiction. Lovecraft is best known for his creation of a body of work that became known as the Cthulhu Mythos.


Born in Providence, RI, Lovecraft spent most of his life in New England and was relatively unknown during his lifetime. While his stories appeared in prominent pulp magazines such as Weird Tales, not many people knew his name. He did, however, correspond regularly with other contemporary writers such as Clark Ashton Smith and August Derleth, who became his friends. This group became to be known as the Lovecraft Circle, since their writings freely borrowed Lovecraft's motifs, with his encouragement and vise versa.

 

STEPHEN HARRIS HOUSE/THE SHUNNED HOUSE

DATE(S) VISITED: JUNE 5, 2021
LOCATION: PROVIDENCE, RI
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Built in 1764, Lovecraft’s elder aunt, Lillian, lived here from 1919 to 1920. This is also the property in which Lovecraft uses as the cursed house in his story, The Shunned House.


 

PENTUCKET BURIAL GROUND

DATE(S) VISITED: NOV, 2017
LOCATION: HAVERHILL, MA
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On a number of occasions Lovecraft visited Haverhill, generally to visit with his acquaintance, C.W. Tryout Smith. Peaslee is a well-known name in Haverhill, and it is possible that Lovecraft, on one of his rambles through the town, spied this stone. The headstone reads:


Here lies interd ye precious dust of Mr Nathanael Peaslee Junr ye only & desirable son of Mr Nathl Peaslee who with comfort took his youthful flight from ye promising joys of earthly possessions in hope of a far more exceeding & eternal weight of glory on Sept ye 9 1730 aged 27 years


 

LOVECRAFT FAMILY GRAVE

DATE(S) VISITED: NOV 10, 2016
LOCATION: PROVIDENCE, RI
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The Philips family monument can be found in Swan Point Cemetery, a large, well kept, park-like cemetery on the outskirts of the city along the banks of the Seekonk River. In 1977, fans erected a headstone next to the family monument on which they inscribed his name, the dates of his birth and death, and the phrase "I AM PROVIDENCE"—a line from one of his personal letters.


Each year, one of our good friends organizes an annual birthday tribute to Lovecraft at the graveside where people can gather to pay their respects via poems, readings, songs, stories, and even balloons.


 

THE HOT CLUB

DATE(S) VISITED: NOV 3, 2016
LOCATION: PROVIDENCE, RI
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A local haunt where HPL would frequent on occasion...hot jazz would have been the order of the day at this venue back in Lovecraft's time. Directly opposite the club, across the river, is the power plant which featured in Lovecraft's story, The Haunter of the Dark.


 

LOVECRAFT'S BIRTHPLACE - 454 ANGELL ST.

DATE(S) VISITED: NOV 3, 2016
LOCATION: PROVIDENCE, RI
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The Lovecraft's 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. Condo's now stand in it's former place and a plaque was erected to commemorate the place where not only where Lovecraft once lived, but was also born.



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)


 

LOVECRAFT'S FORMER HOME - 10 BARNES ST.

DATE(S) VISITED: NOV 1, 2016
LOCATION: PROVIDENCE, RI
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This was the home of Lovecraft from April 1926 to May 1933. This house’s address was also listed as that of Dr. Marinus Bicknell Willett in the story, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. "The Call of Cthulhu" and most of the other Great Texts would have been written during Lovecraft's tenure here.


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


 

SAMUEL B. MUMFORD HOUSE - 65 PROSPECT ST.

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 28, 2016
LOCATION: PROVIDENCE, RI
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On 15th May 1933 H.P. Lovecraft moved to his last home where he had more living space than formerly. This included access to a hoary old loft attic with age-encrusted nooks. Lovecraft also mentions one of the attic rooms to Bloch, shortly after moving in, and implies this was shrine sized. This house was originally built in 1825 at 66 College Street but was moved to 65 Prospect Street in 1959 when an expanding Brown University overtook the former location. The private residence has a historical plaque that reads Samuel B. Mumford House, but nothing about Lovecraft. Lovecraft describes the house in detail, including his own room, in the story The Haunter of the Dark.



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


 

SAMUEL B. MUMFORD HOUSE - 66 PROSPECT ST.

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 28, 2016
LOCATION: PROVIDENCE, RI
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The original location of the Samuel B. Mumford House, which was moved in 1959 to 65 Prospect Street after the expansion of Brown University and the John Hay Library. The house was originally built on this spot in 1825, and the address would have been 66 College Street. From this location Lovecraft would have had views across Providence, looking towards Federal Hill and the wonderful sunsets in the East, as described in The Haunter of the Dark.


 

HORACE B. KNOWLES FUNERAL HOME

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 28, 2016
LOCATION: PROVIDENCE, RI
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This is the building where Lovecraft’s own funeral service was held as well as other members of his family. During his final days he actually kept a clinical study of his disease as an aid to science.


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



 

LADD OBSERVATORY

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 28, 2016
LOCATION: PROVIDENCE, RI
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Perhaps no single location is more significant to the development of Lovecraft's literary philosophy, Cosmicism. Cosmicism states "that there is no recognizable divine presence, such as a god, in the universe, and that humans are particularly insignificant in the larger scheme of intergalactic existence." The most prominent theme is humanity's fear of their insignificance in the face of an incomprehensibly large universe: a fear of the cosmic void.


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. ~ HPL Letter to Reinhardt Kleiner 16 November 1916



Owning three telescopes, one of which he viewed Halley's Comet passage in 1910, Lovecraft also had frequent access to Ladd Observatory at the age of 13 and through his teenage years due to the director of the observatory being a close family friend. From 1899 onwards he would start to chronicle his celestial observations, among one of his creations was The Rhode Island Journal of Astronomy, which he reproduced by hectograph. The November 1903 issue was headlined “The Ladd Observatory Visited by a Correspondent Last Night.” The correspondent was thirteen.

 

BUTLER HOSPITAL

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 28, 2016
LOCATION: PROVIDENCE, RI
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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 July 19, 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.


 

SLATER AVENUE GRAMMER SCHOOL

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 28, 2016
LOCATION: PROVIDENCE, RI
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HPL's old school in which he attended - Slater Avenue Grammar School, 200 University Avenue. The site of the Slater Avenue Grammar School is now occupied by School One.


"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." HPL ~ Letter to Reinhardt Kleiner, 16 November 1916



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