We lucked on this past Sunday, the weather was a very clear and the sun was out as Mike, the para-pups, and I walked around Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, Rhode Island. Swan Point, like many other Victorian Era cemeteries, is what is known as a landscape cemetery. With its wide spacious plots and trimmed trees and shrubs overlooking the Seekonk River, the cemetery feels more like a public park than the final resting place of thousands of people.
Built in 1846, this massive 60 acre cemetery in the heart of Providence currently houses 40,000 plots. One however, brings in the visitors and makes Swan Point Cemetery a must destination on TripAdvisor- H.P. Lovecraft.
Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born in Providence, Rhode Island August 20, 1890. He is well known now as the writer of horror fiction such as The Call of Cthulhu, The Shadow Out of Time, At the Mountains of Madness. When he was living, he struggled to become a notable writer, and struggled to make a living as a writer, editor, and poet, so lived off his family’s inheritance.
On Prospect Street in Providence, you can walk by Lovecraft’s final residence. The home was the model of his story The Hunter of the Dark and where he penned Some Notes on a Nonentity. I will note here, the house has been moved from its original location at 66 College Street to Prospect Street in order to save the historic building when Brown University purchased the property.
A quick walk west to Benefit Street will put you in front of the Steven Harris House, which was featured in Lovecraft’s 1937 short story The Shunned House because it is locally known as a cursed property. And yes, a photography trip to historical Providence is in the works.
Anyway, back to Lovecraft’s grave. It is one of the most, if not the most visited plot in Swan Point Cemetery. Fans leave a variety of offerings at the headstone, anything from coins and gaming dice (pictured above) to copies of his works, figurines, and flowers. Maintenance crews do routinely clean up the offerings to make way for new ones. An interesting debate that sprung out of the photo above when posted earlier on social media was why gaming dice were left on the headstone. As far as I, and my group of friends, can tell, it is because those who left them 1.) really are into tabletop gaming and are fans, 2.) played the table top game version of the Cthulhu mythos, 3.) other reasons that I am not aware of. As for me, I left a quarter on his headstone and left other monetary offers on the rest of his family. As a fellow author who eeks out a living with writing, I can really understand his situation.
A fun note on history is that the headstone you see pictured above was funded by Lovecraft’s fans and erected in 1977- 40 years after his passing. Lovecraft however, isn’t actually buried under that headstone. He is buried with his parents, his name is listed on the Phillips monument right in front of current headstone. His name plate (pictured below) faces the fan erected headstone. So, when visiting his grave, turn around, and you’ll actually see where he is buried!
You can find the Lovecraft family gravesites at the intersection of Avenue B and Pond Ave., so in the middle of the cemetery towards the back.
However, we didn’t just visit Lovecraft, we did walk around and marvel at the exquisitely carved headstones and monuments around Swan Point Cemetery.
As for ghosts, Swan Point isn’t really known for being haunted. In fact, it is quite a peaceful place to walk around when visiting.