At the corner of Meeting and Prospect there is a privately owned tan house with a red door. There is no sign or other acknowledgement that it was the last home of writer and famed Providence resident H.P. Lovecraft. I’m standing across the street next to Mary Beth Maitoza, a guide for the Rhode Island Historical Society. She explains that this house has been moved since Lovecraft lived there. Moments before on the H.P. Lovecraft Walking Tour, the group had seen the original site of the house. Mary Beth holds up a grainy black and white photo in which we can see Lovecraft standing on the same porch directly in front of us.
The group continues past the house, through the Lovecraft Memorial Square and toward a site that Lovecraft used as inspiration for his writing. Mary Beth begins to recite a passage from Lovecraft’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. As she reads each word from the page you can see Lovecraft’s inspiration right in front of you. This is the purpose of this tour, to live and see Providence as Lovecraft saw it. Each stop is connected to Lovecraft’s personal life or his writings. Each time the group pauses, Mary Beth recites another passage and the tour stands in awe as the world of Lovecraft is brought to life before our very eyes.
The tour ends by walking down Benefit Street (pausing briefly at “The Shunned House”) and stopping at the First Baptist Church. Mary Beth begins to read one last passage from Lovecraft: “I will be dogmatic only to the extent of saying that it is New England I must have – in some form or other. Providence is part of me. I am Providence.”
Mary Beth thanks us, the tour ends, but Lovecraft’s Providence remains. H.P. Lovecraft walking tours will be hosted by the RI Historical Society on October 22 and 23 at 12pm. $10. Reservations encouraged. Reserve by emailing JWilson@RIHS.org. 243-7507 x 360, RIHS.org
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