Ladd Observatory, Providence

Chris Perridas has been blogging about H.P. Lovecraft and his time in Providence, Rhode Island and his post today featured the Ladd Observatory. Originally built in 1891, Lovecraft used to hang out there quite a bit:

Ladd remains a living museum of 19th century astronomy practices, complete with creaking staircases and a pleasantly musty attic smell.”

“Some of those rooms, like the one that houses the old transit telescopes, haven’t been fully renovated. As the door creaks open, visitors are greeted by a blast of cold air. The lights don’t work, but Targan shows groups around anyway, with the aid of a flashlight, pointing out how the telescopes were used to keep time by tracing the stars along the sky’s meridian. In the dark, with various strange-looking contraptions covered in dark sheets, the building has a certain haunted house-quality, and indeed, Ladd is said to be haunted by at least one ghost — that of noted Providence fantasy writer H.P. Lovecraft. “Did he ever come here?” a visitor asks. “Are you kidding?” Jackson says. “He had a key to the place.” As a teenager, Lovecraft displayed a keen interest in the skies, even writing regular articles about astronomy for Providence newspapers. And he enjoyed the run of the observatory, thanks to then-director Winslow Upton, a friend of the Lovecraft family.”

I took a mini-Lovecraftian tour of Providence on my Loop The USA road trip in 1994 and fell in love with the little observatory the second I saw it.

Ladd Observatory

I have my doubts that the swing set out front can ward off Eldrich Horrors, but maybe that’s how you summon Them in the first place.

Author: Chris Barrus

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