• Matt

THE HAUNTER OF THE DARK

Written between 5–9 November 1935 and published in the December 1936 edition of Weird Tales (Vol. 28, No. 5, p. 538–53). It was the last written of the author's known works, and is part of the Cthulhu Mythos. The epigraph to the story is the second stanza of Lovecraft's 1917 poem Nemesis. The story is a sequel to The Shambler from the Stars, by Robert Bloch. Bloch wrote a third story in the sequence, The Shadow from the Steeple, in 1950.

 

INDUSTRIAL TRUST TOWER

DATE(S) VISITED: JUN 5, 2021/AUG, 2019/AUG 17, 2017/OCT 29, 2016
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The feeling would persist long after the hill had faded into the violet, lamp-starred twilight, and the court-house floodlights and the red Industrial Trust beacon had blazed up to make the night grotesque. – HPL ~ The Haunter of the Dark


 

PROVIDENCE POWER PLANT

DATE(S) VISITED: NOV 3, 2016/OCT 28, 2016
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Then the lights went out all over the city. It happened at 2.12 A.M. according to power-house records, but Blake's diary gives no indication of the time. The entry is merely, "Lights out- God help me." - HPL ~ The Haunter of the Dark



From this point onwards Blake's diary shows a mounting tide of insidious horror and nervous apprehension. He upbraids himself for not doing something, and speculates wildly on the consequences of another electrical breakdown. It had been verified that on three occasions- during thunderstorms- he telephoned the electric light company in a frantic vein and asked that desperate precautions against a lapse of power be taken. - HPL ~ The Haunter of the Dark



The great storm broke just before midnight on 8 August. Lightning struck repeatedly in all parts of the city, and two remarkable fireballs were reported. The rain was torrential, while a constant fusillade of thunder brought sleeplessness to thousands. Blake was utterly frantic in his fear for the lighting system, and tried to telephone the company around 1 A.M. though by that time service had been temporarily cut off in the interests of safety. He recorded everything in his diary- the large, nervous, and often undecipherable, hieroglyplis telling their own story of growing frenzy and despair, and of entries scrawled blindly in the dark. - HPL ~ The Haunter of the Dark

 

FEDERAL HILL

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 30, 2016
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Late in April, just before the aeon-shadowed Walpurgis time, Blake made his first trip into the unknown. Plodding through the endless downtown streets and the bleak, decayed squares beyond, he came finally upon the ascending avenue of century-worn steps, sagging Doric porches, and blear-paned cupolas which he felt must lead up to the long-known, unreachable world beyond the mists. - HPL ~ The Haunter of the Dark



As Blake climbed higher, the region seemed stranger and stranger, with bewildering mazes of brooding brown alleys leading eternally off to the south. He crossed two or three broad avenues, and once thought he glimpsed a familiar tower. - HPL ~ The Haunter of the Dark



He had to keep the house dark in order to see out of the window, and it appears that most of his time was spent at his desk, peering anxiously through the rain across the glistening miles of downtown roofs at the constellation of distant lights marking Federal Hill. - HPL ~ The Haunter of the Dark



Then a sharp report from the outer world broke through his stupor and roused him to the unutterable horror of his position. What it was, he never knew—perhaps it was some belated peal from the fireworks heard all summer on Federal Hill as the dwellers hail their various patron saints, or the saints of their native villages in Italy. - HPL ~ The Haunter of the Dark



There were dingy blue-and-white street signs which meant nothing to him, and presently he noted the strange, dark faces of the drifting crowds, and the foreign signs over curious shops in brown, decade-weathered buildings. Nowhere could he find any of the objects he had seen from afar; so that once more he half fancied that the Federal Hill of that distant view was a dream-world never to be trod by living human feet. - HPL ~ The Haunter of the Dark



From his few local acquaintances he learned that the far-off slope was a vast Italian quarter, though most of the houses were remnants of older Yankee and Irish days. Now and then he would train his field-glasses on that spectral, unreachable world beyond the curling smoke; picking out individual roofs and chimneys and steeples, and speculating upon the bizarre and curious mysteries they might house. Even with optical aid Federal Hill seemed somehow alien, half fabulous, and linked to the unreal, intangible marvels of Blake‘s own tales and pictures. - HPL ~ The Haunter of the Dark

 

CHURCH OF STARRY WISDOM

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 30, 2016
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The Church of Starry Wisdom, also known in the story as the old Free-Will Church, was based by Lovecraft on the real St. John's Roman Catholic Church on Federal Hill in Providence, Rhode Island, the principal Catholic Church in the area in Lovecraft's day.


Founded by Irish Immigrants in 1870 it was the first church on Federal Hill and the largest in the Diocese of Providence, seating over 1,800 people. At the turn of the 20th century, the Italian Immigrants replaced the Irish on the Hill and St. John's became an Italian parish. It was the neighborhood church, it sat at the heart of Federal Hill for over 100 years and the people loved their church. Due to structural issues, the diocese made the choice to close St. John's and merge with Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in the mid-1990's. The beautiful historic building was demolished on February 4, 1992. A park now named after the church serves as a quiet sanctuary for the bustling Federal Hill Community.



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 facade, 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 shew, was that earliest experimental form of Gothic revival which preceded 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. - HPL ~ The Haunter of the Dark



As months passed, Blake watched the far-off, forbidding structure with an oddly mounting interest. Since the vast windows were never lighted, he knew that it must be vacant. The longer he watched, the more his imagination worked, till at length he began to fancy curious things. He believed that a vague, singular aura of desolation hovered over the place, so that even the pigeons and swallows shunned its smoky eaves. Around other towers and belfries his glass would reveal great flocks of birds, but here they never rested. At least, that is what he thought and set down in his diary. - HPL ~ The Haunter of the Dark



Then, looking down, he saw the few people in the square edging away and making the same sign with their right hands that the shopkeeper in the avenue had made. Several windows were slammed down, and a fat woman darted into the street and pulled some small children inside a rickety, unpainted house. The gap in the fence was very easy to pass through, and before long Blake found himself wading amidst the rotting, tangled growths of the deserted yard. Here and there the worn stump of a headstone told him that there had once been burials in the field; but that, he saw, must have been very long ago. The sheer bulk of the church was oppressive now that he was close to it, but he conquered his mood and approached to try the three great doors in the façade. All were securely locked, so he began a circuit of the Cyclopean building in quest of some minor and more penetrable opening. - HPL ~ The Haunter of the Dark



One of the angel wings from the church can be seen on display in the Lovecraft Arts & Sciences store in The Arcade, Westminster Street, Providence, Rhode Island.



The vacant church was in a state of great decrepitude. Some of the high stone buttresses had fallen, and several delicate finials lay half lost among the brown, neglected weeds and grasses. The sooty Gothic windows were largely unbroken, though many of the stone mullions were missing. - HPL ~ The Haunter of the Dark

 

NARRANGANSETT BAY

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 30, 2016
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The case of these imaginative theorists has not been helped by the action of superstitious Dr. Dexter, who threw the curious box and angled stone—an object certainly self-luminous as seen in the black windowless steeple where it was found—into the deepest channel of Narragansett Bay. - The Haunter of the Dark



Jason Eckhardt and myself at Narragansett Bay on one of our Lovecraft expeditions back in Oct 2016.



It was one of these believers who, moved to fanatical extremes, threw into the bay the curiously angled stone and its strangely adorned metal box found in the old church steeple—the black windowless steeple, and not the tower where Blake‘s diary said those things originally were. - HPL ~ The Haunter of the Dark

 

COLLEGE HILL

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 29, 2016
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The next day’s papers gave these matters minor mention in connexion with the general storm reports. It seems that the great lightning flash and deafening explosion which followed the Federal Hill occurrence were even more tremendous farther east, where a burst of the singular foetor was likewise noticed. - HPL ~ The Haunter of the Dark



The phenomenon was most marked over College Hill, where the crash awaked all the sleeping inhabitants and led to a bewildered round of speculations. Of those who were already awake only a few saw the anomalous blaze of light near the top of the hill, or noticed the inexplicable upward rush of air which almost stripped the leaves from the trees and blasted the plants in the gardens. - HPL ~ The Haunter of the Dark


 

SAMUEL B. MUMFORD HOUSE - 65 PROSPECT ST.

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 28, 2016
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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
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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.



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