The latest Voluminous podcast reveals part of a Lovecraft letter formerly only partly published, and now part of the “recently acquired letters from HPL to Frank Belknap Long”. These are now being prepared for annotated print publication.
The scan being beautifully read on the podcast mentions “the Mason collection of Rhode-Island Colonial Doorways” which numbered in the “thousands”. Thankfully the collection has not perished and, in the Voluminous show notes, we find that…
Somehow the Providence Public Library came into possession of the George Mason photograph collection
This is now online under Creative Commons, albeit with only 509 items rather than the “thousands” Lovecraft observed. Possibly the collection ranged more widely than Rhode Island, though, and others survive but are not scanned because not local. Lovecraft seemed to imply the collection had such a breadth, when he remarked how it made him aware of the unseen colonial treasures of Philadelphia. Perhaps the various relevant parts of the collection were disparate to other local collections, and Providence only kept their pictures.
1233 Westminster Street, Providence.
The Voluminous letter also has vivid accounts of two urban explorations of the city with Eddy, in search of more decrepit colonial relics. One of these walks is known from Selected Letters Vol. 1, and is in the Morton letters in almost identical form. Possibly also the Moe letters, as I recall. But the letter’s account of a slightly later visit to the Italian quarter seems less familiar. This also has a remark from Lovecraft which indicates that, though he may well have been taking night-walks before late 1923, these had not ventured down into the industrial slums of the south-west waterfront or up into the Federal Hill area of the city. The latter was somewhat dangerous for a non-Italian to enter, especially in the bootlegging era.
There is a letter in the Brown Digital Repository which adds just a touch more to the Voluminous letter. In 1943 Muriel Eddy states that her husband recalled a “Poe Street” being encountered on these walks.
The new Voluminous letter shows Lovecraft enthusing over a “Gould’s Court” there, which he imagined in its “gnawing hideousness” as “Ghoul’s Court”.
But he does not mention Poe, which one might have expected him too if he and Eddy had got down that far on that walk — as there is indeed a waterfront Poe Street far down on the west side. But probably there were multiple Lovecraft-Eddy expeditions that pushed down into that area, and Poe Street was likely encountered after the first visit and the initial enthusing letters to Long and Morton. Hence, no mention of Poe. This supposition can be confirmed by showing that in the 1970s city native Henry Beckwith recalled that “Ghoul’s Court” was…
on Gould Street, just northwest of Pine Street between Claverick and Chestnut Streets
This is the site of the current Beneficent House complex, and quite a way away from Poe Street. It thus puts the “Ghoul’s Court” spot directly back from the bookshop of ‘Uncle Eddy’ and just a little south. I’ve just had a Lovecraft Annual essay on ‘Uncle Eddy’ accepted (for 2022 or 2023, not sure which yet). At one point in this I briefly follow Lovecraft into this area, and so I’m glad of this additional confirmation on location.