This week in my regular ‘Picture Postals’ slot, a view down Lovecraft’s College St., as it stood at his death after ‘improvements’. Here his home at No. 66 is a short walk up the hill behind the cameraman, and we here look down toward the river and the river-bridge to the main commercial area.

College Hill ladies of a certain age would sometimes avoid this steep bit of the hill by entering the Court House building on the left, at its foot by the river (by then becoming a humdrum and expanding car-park), and riding the elevator up. They could thus totter out of another Court House entrance further up, and emerge above the steep incline. But it seems Lovecraft hiked up and down it, at least with friends visiting the city. On a more workaday trip to downtown he may well have gone sideways along the hill from here, and used another bridge a little further north. But even so, this would have seen his view before he made the turn.

The source is a scrapbook page, as scanned and freely online via the Providence Public Library. The scraps collector has carefully tilted the picture on its sellotape hinges, to have the uprights be perfectly upright.

But for my makeover and colorising I’ve cropped to the framing apparently given it by the publication from which it was taken. We thus perhaps get a slight sense of unease because the picture is un-noticeably tilted. This seems to fit the Lovecraftian nature of the place.

The old back-yards and workshops had been swept away, and I’ve documented the destruction and yards on Tentaclii. Lovecraft regretted this, but by that time he was resigned to the ever-increasing depredations of modernity. But the new building (see centrally here) had retained the position and something of the form of one of the olde archways. This was not the courtyard-entrance archway in which Lovecraft would often meet the cat ‘Old Man’, but a similar one. The “Old Man” archway was on Thomas Street…

He belonged to a market at the foot of Thomas Street — the hill street mentioned in Cthulhu as the abode of the young artist […] Occasionally he would stroll up the hill as far as the Art Club, seating himself at the entrance to one of those old-fashioned courtyard archways (formerly common everywhere) for which Providence is so noted. At night, when the electric lights make the street bright, the space within the archway would remain pitch-black, so that it looked like the mouth of an illimitable abyss, or the gateway of some nameless dimension. And there, as if stationed as a guardian of the unfathomed mysteries beyond, would crouch the Sphinxlike, jet-black, yellow-eyed, and incredibly ancient form of Old Man.