• Matt

PICKMAN'S MODEL

Updated: Jun 2

Pickman's Model is a short story by H. P. Lovecraft, written in September 1926 and first published in the October 1927 issue of Weird Tales. It was adapted for television in a 1971 episode of the Night Gallery anthology series, starring Bradford Dillman.


Like the Brooklyn neighborhood portrayed in Lovecraft's The Horror at Red Hook, Boston's North End is depicted as a rundown section inhabited by immigrants and honeycombed by subterranean passageways. Pickman declares:


What do maps and records and guide-books really tell of the North End? Bah! At a guess I'll guarantee to lead you to thirty or forty alleys and networks of alleys north of Prince Street that aren't suspected by ten living beings outside of the foreigners that swarm them. – HPL ~ Pickman's Model


Prince Street, like Henchman Street, Charter Street, and Greenough Lane, are actual North End streets. Though the story is vague about the precise location of Pickman's studio, it was apparently inspired by an actual North End building. Lovecraft wrote that when he visited the neighborhood with Donald Wandrei, he found "the actual alley & house of the tale utterly demolished, a whole crooked line of buildings having been torn down".


The character known as Pickman is depicted as a renowned Boston painter notorious for his ghoulish works. His great-great-great-great-grandmother was hanged by Cotton Mather during the Salem witch trials of 1692. (Pickman and Upton are, in reality, old Salem names.) In 1926, Pickman vanished from his home—a date only given in Lovecraft's History of the Necronomicon. Pickman reappears as a ghoul in The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (1926) and aids Randolph Carter in his journeys.


The only saving grace of the present is that it's too damned stupid to question the past very closely. – HPL ~ Pickman’s Model

 

NORTH END

DATE(S) VISITED: AUG 24, 2017
LOCATION: BOSTON, MA
MAP

“The place for an artist to live is the North End. If any aesthete were sincere, he’d put up with the slums for the sake of the massed traditions. God, man! Don’t you realise that places like that weren’t merely made, but actually grew? Generation after generation lived and felt and died there, and in days when people weren’t afraid to live and feel and die.” – HPL ~ Pickman’s Model



Let the police find what they can—it won’t be much, judging from the fact that they don’t know yet of the old North End place he hired under the name of Peters. I’m not sure that I could find it again myself—not that I’d ever try, even in broad daylight! – HPL ~ Pickman’s Model


 

BATTERY STREET

DATE(S) VISITED: AUG 24, 2017
LOCATION: BOSTON, MA
MAP

“It’s no vast tour—I sometimes do it on foot, for I don’t want to attract attention with a taxi in such a place. We can take the shuttle at the South Station for Battery Street, and after that the walk isn’t much.” – HPL ~ Pickman’s Model


 

PRINCE STREET

DATE(S) VISITED: AUG 24, 2017
LOCATION: BOSTON, MA
MAP

“At a guess I’ll guarantee to lead you to thirty or forty alleys and networks of alleys north of Prince Street that aren’t suspected by ten living beings outside of the foreigners that swarm them.” – HPL ~ Pickman’s Model


 

CHARTER STREET

DATE(S) VISITED: AUG 24, 2017
LOCATION: BOSTON, MA
MAP

He led me out of that tangle of alleys in another direction, it seems, for when we sighted a lamp post we were in a half-familiar street with monotonous rows of mingled tenement blocks and old houses. Charter Street, it turned out to be, but I was too flustered to notice just where we hit it. – HPL ~ Pickman’s Model


 

JOY STREET/BEACON STREET

DATE(S) VISITED: AUG 24, 2017
LOCATION: BOSTON, MA
MAP

I remember that walk. We switched from Tremont up Beacon, and Pickman left me at the corner of Joy, where I turned off. I never spoke to him again. – HPL ~ Pickman’s Model


 

CONSTITUTION WHARF

DATE(S) VISITED: AUG 24, 2017
LOCATION: BOSTON, MA
MAP

We changed to the elevated at the South Station, and at about twelve o’clock had climbed down the steps at Battery Street and struck along the old waterfront past Constitution Wharf. I didn’t keep track of the cross streets, and can’t tell you yet which it was we turned up, but I know it wasn’t Greenough Lane. – HPL ~ Pickman’s Model


 

GREENOUGH LANE

DATE(S) VISITED: AUG 24, 2017
LOCATION: BOSTON, MA
MAP

We changed to the elevated at the South Station, and at about twelve o’clock had climbed down the steps at Battery Street and struck along the old waterfront past Constitution Wharf. I didn’t keep track of the cross streets, and can’t tell you yet which it was we turned up, but I know it wasn’t Greenough Lane. – HPL ~ Pickman’s Model



 

HANOVER STREET

DATE(S) VISITED: AUG 24, 2017
LOCATION: BOSTON, MA
MAP

We were too late for the elevated, and walked back downtown through Hanover Street. I remember that walk. We switched from Tremont up Beacon, and Pickman left me at the corner of Joy, where I turned off. I never spoke to him again. – HPL ~ Pickman’s Model


 

TREMONT STREET

DATE(S) VISITED: AUG 24, 2017
LOCATION: BOSTON, MA
MAP

I remember that walk. We switched from Tremont up Beacon, and Pickman left me at the corner of Joy, where I turned off. I never spoke to him again. – HPL ~ Pickman’s Model


 

HENCHMAN STREET

DATE(S) VISITED: AUG 24, 2017
LOCATION: BOSTON, MA
MAP

“Why, man, out of ten surviving houses built before 1700 and not moved since I’ll wager that in eight I can shew you something queer in the cellar. There’s hardly a month that you don’t read of workmen finding bricked-up arches and wells leading nowhere in this or that old place as it comes down—you could see one near Henchman Street from the elevated last year.” – HPL ~ Pickman’s Model


 

COPP'S HILL

DATE(S) VISITED: AUG 24, 2017
LOCATION: BOSTON, MA
MAP

Copp's Hill is an elevation in the historic North End of Boston, Massachusetts. It is bordered by Hull Street, Charter Street and Snow Hill Street. The hill takes its name from William Copp, a shoemaker who once owned the land.


Copp's Hill is also used in the long running Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game scenario, The Haunting.



"Don’t you know there was a mill on Copp’s Hill in 1632, and that half the present streets were laid out by 1650? I can shew you houses that have stood two centuries and a half and more; houses that have witnessed what would make a modern house crumble into powder. What do moderns know of life and the forces behind it?" – HPL ~ Pickman’s Model


 

COPP'S HILL BURIAL GROUND

DATE(S) VISITED: AUG 24, 2017
LOCATION: BOSTON, MA
MAP

The backgrounds were mostly old churchyards, deep woods, cliffs by the sea, brick tunnels, ancient panelled rooms, or simple vaults of masonry. Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, which could not be many blocks away from this very house, was a favourite scene. – HPL ~ Pickman’s Model



Dances in the modern cemeteries were freely pictured, and another conception somehow shocked me more than all the rest—a scene in an unknown vault, where scores of the beasts crowded about one who held a well-known Boston guide-book and was evidently reading aloud. – HPL ~ Pickman’s Model



They were sometimes shewn in groups in cemeteries or underground passages, and often appeared to be in battle over their prey—or rather, their treasure-trove. – HPL ~ Pickman’s Model



There was one thing called “The Lesson”—heaven pity me, that I ever saw it! Listen—can you fancy a squatting circle of nameless dog-like things in a churchyard teaching a small child how to feed like themselves? – HPL ~ Pickman’s Model



Another shewed a dance on Copp’s Hill among the tombs with the background of today. – HPL ~ Pickman’s Model


 

BEACON HILL

DATE(S) VISITED: AUG 24, 2017
LOCATION: BOSTON, MA
MAP

One disgusting canvas seemed to depict a vast cross-section of Beacon Hill, with ant-like armies of the mephitic monsters squeezing themselves through burrows that honeycombed the ground. – HPL ~ Pickman’s Mode


 

BOYLSTON STREET SUBWAY

DATE(S) VISITED: AUG 24, 2017
LOCATION: BOSTON, MA
MAP

Gad, how that man could paint! There was a study called “Subway Accident”, in which a flock of the vile things were clambering up from some unknown catacomb through a crack in the floor of the Boylston Street subway and attacking a crowd of people on the platform. – HPL ~ Pickman’s Model


 

THE DANVERS LUNATIC ASYLUM

DATE(S) VISITED: AUG 23, 2017

LOCATION: DANVERS, MA

MAP

The Danvers State Hospital, also known as the State Lunatic Hospital at Danvers, The Danvers Lunatic Asylum, and The Danvers State Insane Asylum, was a psychiatric hospital located at 450 Maple Street, Danvers, Massachusetts. It was built in 1874, and opened in 1878, under the supervision of prominent Boston architect Nathaniel Jeremiah Bradlee, on an isolated rural site. It was a multi-acre, self-contained psychiatric hospital designed and built according to the Kirkbride Plan. Despite being included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, the majority of the building was sadly demolished in 2007.


The Danvers State Hospital is believed by literary historians to have served as inspiration for the infamous Arkham sanatorium from H.P. Lovecraft's The Thing on the Doorstep. (Lovecraft's Arkham, in turn, is the inspiration for Arkham Asylum, a psychiatric hospital within the Batman universe).


Before long I was pretty nearly a devotee, and would listen for hours like a schoolboy to art theories and philosophic speculations wild enough to qualify him for the Danvers asylum. - HPL Pickmans Model


 

GALLOWS HILL

DATE(S) VISITED: OCTOBER 31, 2016
LOCATION: SALEM, MA
MAP

One canvas shewed a ring of them baying about a hanged witch on Gallows Hill, whose dead face held a close kinship to theirs. – HPL ~ Pickman’s Model


On visiting one of the many witch museum's in Salem, this picture was on the wall showing the Puritan Meeting House and Gallows Hill.



But keep in mind that I didn’t drop Pickman for anything like this. On the contrary, my admiration for him kept growing; for that “Ghoul Feeding” was a tremendous achievement. As you know, the club wouldn’t exhibit it, and the Museum of Fine Arts wouldn’t accept it as a gift; and I can add that nobody would buy it, so Pickman had it right in his house till he went. Now his father has it in Salem—you know Pickman comes of old Salem stock, and had a witch ancestor hanged in 1692. – HPL ~ Pickman’s Model



The region had been settled in 1692 by fugitives from the witchcraft trials in Salem, and even now it bore a name for vaguely ominous things scarcely to be envisaged. Edmund Carter had fled from the shadow of Gallows Hill just in time, and the tales of his sorceries were many. Now, it seemed, his lone descendant had gone somewhere to join him. – HPL ~ Pickman’s Model



On a trip into Salem on Halloween, 2016, I (Matt) stumbled across a Pagan Samhain ceremony taking place at Gallows Hill Park. After watching for a while I was invited to take part, an experience I certainly will never forget.



You call the Salem witchcraft a delusion, but I’ll wage my four-times- great-grandmother could have told you things. They hanged her on Gallows Hill, with Cotton Mather looking sanctimoniously on. Mather, damn him, was afraid somebody might succeed in kicking free of this accursed cage of monotony—I wish someone had laid a spell on him or sucked his blood in the night! – HPL ~ Pickman’s Model

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