As we slip over into the seasons of mists… a vintage picture of the Van Wickle Gates on a misty night, Providence. My thanks to Brown University for digitising this, and I’ve used Photoshop to subtly rectify some of the damage and fuzzyness of the picture (but you can still see a section of peel-up on right). I can add to their record the name of the photographer: Prof. Walter H. Snell, and that it was made in the early 1930s.

The John Hay Library frontage is seen behind, with main entrance-steps seen on the far right of the picture. This orientation confirms that we’re looking down College Street.

From this vantage point in the shadows a lucky observer in 1933-37 might have glimpsed H.P. Lovecraft about to set off on a long night-walk in his city. A tall gaunt figure would have stepped out from the end of the short lane which came up from his house. After pausing a moment to scout the quiet street and garden-walls for any suitably conversational cats, he would have turned to walk briskly away down the hill — while being framed for an instant in the gate-entrance seen on the far left of this picture. Or, if one was lucky, he would have headed toward the gate and the camera, so as to walk through the grounds of Brown University. I assume that the grounds were not sealed-off at night, in those days.


Below we see the lane-end (far left, lower corner) in daytime, viewed from the other side of the gates…

Incidentally I now realise that I was mistaken in an earlier ‘postcard’ post here, one made late last year. I had though that a bit of a house glimpsed past the John Hay Library might have been that of Lovecraft. It wasn’t so, and that post has now been deleted. I now realise that any picture which shows the frontage alone can’t show the relevant house(s). Only side views, like those above, are of possible interest and even then will likely only indicate the line of the lane that came up from his house at the back of the Library.

New week on ‘Picture postals’: continuing the theme, with a detailed look at Lovecraft’s unique scientific understanding of the origin of clouds and mists.