On 15th May 1933 H.P. Lovecraft moved to his last home at 66 College Street.
Here we look down College Street, from the gates of the Brown Campus. Lovecraft’s pale yellow wooden house was hidden away in a secluded garden courtyard, reached down an unpaved little lane at the shadowy back of the John Hay Library. The Library is the tall white building seen on the right of the picture, and the lane entrance is on the corner — seen just a little ahead and in the centre of the picture.
At No. 66 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. There appear to have been loft windows (possibly shuttered, see below) in the ‘monitor’ roof, and there was an all round view. I recall reading that Brobst later found a way to open a mysterious attic door or hatchway, which the old gent had been unable to open himself, thus revealing another fine view. Presumably this was a door that gave workmen, chimney-sweeps and window-cleaners access to the roof. One imagines this was westerly-facing, as that would have also enabled a wider view across the sunset city than was obtainable from the small windows.
Some might imagine that this loft then became crammed with Lovecraft’s older and less-read books. In one letter he did anticipate using in in that way. But many of Lovecraft’s family items, and the childhood library of old long-s books, had to be stored in another and more distant loft which had stronger rafters. In 1934 Lovecraft mentioned to Barlow that the old books he had grown up with and inherited were stored in the loft of a friend’s nearby barn. There they had become inaccessible to him, because the removal men’s crates had been jammed between old family furniture and crates of heavy crockery. For those in search of this barn, the likely weight involved surely indicates that the loft’s boards and rafters were rather more substantial that those of 66 College Street. Thus a large and sturdy candidate is surely required for the barn.
What became of this inaccessible loft-library, that had once been so formative for Lovecraft in his isolated early childhood? We can be sure that his personal library retained his cherished old copies of the Spectator, similar works of his beloved 18th century wits and satirists, and the pick of the old library. But as for the rest, it’s uncertain, and Joshi’s Lovecraft’s Library doesn’t seem to offer an easy answer. I’d imagine that the residue of the family library was eventually hauled out of its barn, perhaps in spring 1941 a short while after Mrs Gamwell’s death, and sent down wholesale to be sold via the Dana bookshop in Providence? The interest in crates of mouldering 18th century books was perhaps not high during the Second World War, but some of the choicer items — such as the books once requested in vain by Barlow — may have found their way to appreciative collectors.
My enlargement and colourisation of the above picture…