Will Hart is an actor, photographer, and attendee of the famed H. P. Lovecraft Centennial Celebration in Providence in August of 1990. After hundreds of hours of work, Mr. Hart has recently released an incredible digital collection of over 800 pictures documenting the historic event. His project is entitled "Lovecraft’s Providence, From A Different Angle: Providence & Beyond at the Time of HPL’s Centennial," which can now be viewed for free at the following website:


We asked Mr. Hart to share with us a little about his collection, his pilgrimage to Providence, and his life.

LNN: Tell us a little about yourself in general.

WEH: I'm a married, 56 year-old life-long collector of Science Fiction, Horror, Escapist, Adult, Fantasy, History (mostly Roman) entertainment of all kinds; with a very strong emphasis on Literature and Movies. Besides all of the traditional ways of enjoying these areas, I've also moved heavily into the electronic world of E-Books, Audio Books, XviD Movies and Television Shows; any format of these items that will allow them to be played in my home theater (10' 16:9 wide-screen format system with 7.1 dual-subwoofer surround sound cranked to commercial theater level), or on something as small as one of my 3" portable media players. I've been an extra and an actor in movies, television, and commercials (mostly in the early 90's, and good luck finding me!), and have spent most of the last 17 years working in Environment, Safety & Health for a major U.S. company; which has just notified me that I'll be "free" to go back to the Screen Actors' Guild (S.A.G.), and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (A.F.T.R.A.), or whatever else I would like to do, after October 16th., when I, and several of my co-workers in Southern California, find ourselves being "affected" by a company (or as they say, enterprise) wide lay-off. And I'm going to take advantage of this "free" time to get back to doing the things I want to do for now.

At some point in the very early 70's, I picked up a paperback copy of an H. P. Lovecraft collection (probably, "The Tomb & Other Tales") from a spinning display rack in a Thrifty Mart supermarket in Anaheim, California, and found myself enjoying it enough that I had to search for more of the same. It wasn't long before I ran out of available books in the local stores, and clerks began offering to "special order" books for me from their catalogs. This was a new experience for me, and the 8-16 weeks it sometimes took to get the books was maddening! Once I got into the mode of ordering these hard to find books, i.e., Arkham House books and others, I began writing to all of the publishers to find out about more of the same; and I also expanded my searches into the greater Los Angeles stores. It was actually in Hollywood, where I ran into my first Lovecraftian Amateur Press works; and that started me on the trail that lead me to eventually become a member of the Esoteric Order of Dagon Amateur Press Association as one of its official 39 members for a while in the late 70's through the early 80's. My publication was called, "Eldritch Leanings"; and would contain minor thoughts, movie and book reviews, pictures, a little bit of artwork (mostly the cover), and began as a Xeroxed production, then switched to mimeographed, and finally to high-quality printing before I gave it up due to time constraints and embarrassment over how poor my offerings were compared to the scholarly works of others like S. T. Joshi. My leaving left an opening for a much better contributor to join the group, and I felt good about that.

In 1977, while I was still in the E.O.D., I contributed a little money to the funds that were being collected to put a headstone on H. P. Lovecraft's grave (as well as his mother's too); and I will always feel great about being even a very small part of that project. But I will always feel guilty over having not put any money into the H. P. Lovecraft Memorial Plaque collection being taken up by Jon Cooke, Will Murray, and S. T. Joshi in 1990; even though they managed to collect thousands more than was required to put the plaque up. My guilty feelings about this may have something to do with my now trying to put the long-term display of pictures on Flickr for everyone to enjoy.

As a die-hard Lovecraft fan at that time (and still one in 2009), I knew that the 100th. anniversary of Lovecraft's birth was going to be on 20-August-1990, and I knew that plans were being made by the same group collecting money for the plaque (under the name "Friends of Lovecraft") to have a celebration in Providence to commemorate this event, and I was not going to miss it for anything. I'm not sure now, but saving money for the trip may have also contributed to my not sending money for the plaque.

LNN: Did I understand you correctly that these are from 1990? How and why did you decide to digitize them and post them online now?

WEH: Yes, the pictures are from 1990; as I'll explain in more detail while answering several of your questions. I used film cameras for the first 40 or so years of my life, and took thousands of pictures of people, places, and events (over 2400 in just one of my trips to Italy alone!); but after I switched to digital cameras a few years ago, I put most of my equipment and negatives away in storage. Until late in 2007 when I finally bought a decent 3600 d.p.i. (dots per inch) film scanner (a PrimeFilm 3650U with Digital ICE technology), and I started looking through my negatives to see what would make interesting digital pictures. And as you can tell from what you are now reading, my 1990 Providence trip pictures became prime candidates for scanning.

This collection now contains about 800 digital pictures, even though I didn’t take that many. The reason the number has grown is simple. Once I had digital data, I was able to look through all of the pictures for possible pictures-within-pictures to save as separate “Detail” files.

And once I had converted all of these to a digital format, cleaned them up, color corrected them, and resized them (hundreds of hours of work), it only made sense to try and share them with “Friends of Lovecraft” everywhere, in any way I could, as my early gift for the upcoming 20th. Anniversary of the Centennial in 2010 (not that I know of any official activities to mark twenty years since the Centennial).

I explained most of this elsewhere lately, but it's true that I've always felt that pictures are a moment frozen in time; and you can never "own" that moment. You can only try to freeze it by recording it through your camera's lens, so you can savor it for as long as you like; and hopefully share that moment with others.

I’m giving everyone my permission to do what they want with these pictures. All I ask is that they give me a photo credit if they use any of them; and drop me an email letter, or send me a copy of whatever they use them in for my collection if they can.

LNN: Tell us about the festival: what sorts of things happened, what were your impressions of it, and what made you decide to attend?

WEH: The H. P. Lovecraft Centennial Celebration was held Friday, 17-August-1990, through Monday, 20-August-1990, at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island; with most of the activities in the Salomon Center and the John Hay Library. The Avon Theater on Thayer Street also hosted the premiere showing of "H. P. Lovecraft's Bride of the Re-Animator" on Friday and Saturday nights. There were Panels (see below), Short Films, a Film Festival, Items for Sale (including piles of Necronomicon Press items!), First Day Commemorative Envelopes (every day), an Exhibition of Lovecraft’s Original Documents, an Art Exhibit of Works inspired by the writings of H. P. Lovecraft, Dining, Tours, Talks, Socializing, Unveiling of the H. P. Lovecraft Memorial Plaque on Sunday, and the Official Dedication of the H. P. Lovecraft Memorial Plaque on Monday. As a true Lovecraft fan at that time, I HAD to attend. I wasn't a published author, or one of the scholars who spoke on one of the panels, and I didn't have a degree to impress anyone with; I was just one of the fans that had to be there to honor H. P. Lovecraft. It was the single most important H. P. Lovecraft event that had taken place up until then, and probably since then too; so anyone who was truly a hard-core Lovecraft fan would have done whatever they could to be there for that event. And a great time was had by all. I got to see old friends (like Donald R. Burleson), make new friends for the long weekend; and I got to find out how intense it can be when you get that many people focused on H. P. Lovecraft at the same time. An unforgettable time. Only slightly documented by my pictures; because I had to choose between being out shooting, or in watching and listening. There needed to be three of me to take everything in.

The panels at The H. P. Lovecraft Centennial Celebration included:


9:45-11:15 a.m. Lovecraft and New England: Barton St. Armand, Donald R. Burleson, Will Murray, Henry L. P. Beckwith, Jr., and Jason Eckhardt as the Moderator.

11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Lovecraft’s Life & Times: Harry Brobst, Kenneth W. Faig, Eileen McNamara, David E. Schultz, and Marc A. Michaud as the Moderator.

2:30-4:00 p.m. Lovecraft’s Style & Imagery: Norman L. Gayford, John McInnis, R. Boerem, Robert H. Waugh, and Steven J. Mariconda as the Moderator.

8:00 p.m.-? Craft of the Horror Writer: Les Daniels, Fred Chappell, Stefan Dziemianowicz, Frank Belknap Long, and Robert M. Price as the Moderator.


9:30-11:00 a.m. Lovecraft’s Place in World Literature: Maurice Levy, Gilles Menegaldo, Kaliju Kirde, Giuseppe Lippi, and Paul Buhle as the Moderator.

11:15 a.m.-1:00 p.m. A Reassessment of Lovecraft’s Legacy: Donald R. Burleson, Paul Buhle, Robert M. Price, Peter Cannon, and S. T. Joshi as the Moderator.

Please note: I apologize for any names that are wrong from the panels due to last minute substitutions; I am quoting mostly from the original schedule.

LNN: The title of your collection is "Lovecraft's Providence, From a Different Angle." What significance does this title have to you, especially considering the medium is located on a website where its casual observers might not have ever heard of HPL? Tell me about your "angle."

WEH: The Actual title of the collection is (see the cover shot there, which is the very first image), "Lovecraft's Providence, From a Different Angle: Providence & Beyond at the Time of HPL’s Centennial, 1990"

I describe this further as, "A visual record of the trip taken to Providence, Rhode Island, and beyond by William E. Hart (Will Hart) at the time of the H. P. Lovecraft Centennial Celebration, Thursday, August 16th., 1990 through Wednesday, August 22nd., 1990; With side trips to Plymouth, Cambridge, and Boston, Massachusetts."

As to, “A Different Angle,” That’s the best way to explain what you’ll see I was looking for when I originally shot these pictures just for my own personal collection. I had seen many pictures of Lovecraft related sites prior to my trip, but I wanted to see and photograph what I had NOT seen. Expecting this to be the only trip I would ever get to make to Providence, I wanted to have photographic coverage of the places or things I personally found of interest, from as many angles as possible, so I could really enjoy the memories triggered by looking at the pictures as the years went by. That's why you'll see that I tried to (wherever possible) shoot everything from all sides. I wanted to see the front, back, sides, rear, and tops in some cases (by shooting from high-altitude vantage points). I even made a point of shooting out in all directions from Prospect Terrace, as well as into Prospect terrace. I even got into buildings, like the List Art Building, in an attempt to see what the viewing angle would have been like from Lovecraft's final home (when it stood at 66 College Street, before being moved in 1959 to make way for the List Art Building). I hung out of windows downtown to recreate shooting angles from old postcards showing where the "Old Brick Row" used to be. And I shot every direction that I could from the roof of 1 Financial Plaza (don't even think about asking to do this in our post 9-11 world), at every zoom setting from near to far that my camera could handle.

During my stay in Providence, I would shoot a couple of rolls, and then have those developed and printed as 4” X 6” prints so I could see if the shots came out O.K.; and also to remind myself of what I had already covered, or still needed to cover while I had time. And then I would go back out and try to fill in as many of the blanks on my visual wish-list as possible.

My number one location guide was Henry L. P. Beckwith, Jr.’s incredible 1979 first printing of “Lovecraft’s Providence & Adjacent Parts”; which gave me more places to see than I could possibly have made it to in the time I had available. And I would like to submit any of my pictures that relate to locations he described as my visual companions and tributes to his book.

And my second most-used guide book (or in this case booklet), was Jason C. Eckhardt’s marvelous “Off The Ancient Track” in its May 1990 Second Revised Printing. In particular, I would never have made the run to Cambridge to see the Widener Library, or to Boston to see Copp’s Hill Burying Ground and the North End “Pickman’s Model” sites without his guidance. And any pictures I took in those locations are also a tribute to him, and everyone who helped with his booklet.

And my last guide of note, for inspiration, was Philip A. Shreffler’ s 1977 edition of “The H.P. Lovecraft Companion” with its beautiful black & white plates. I know I was thinking of these when I visited 65 Prospect Street, St. John’s on Federal Hill (gone but not forgotten), and the Salem Witch House (which I arrived at after dark when it was too late to take any pictures on my way back from Boston). And, Philip can consider my pictures of 65 Prospect, and St. John’s as an attempt to rise to his standards too.

As far as the Flickr web site being an obscure place for Lovecraft pictures, where most people might not be familiar with him; you might be surprised. Within 24 hours of my starting to upload the first roll of digitized pictures to Flickr, without my making any effort to publicize the fact I was doing it, Google was already "finding" my pictures when I did a "Lovecraft" + "Providence" search of the web. I wasn't looking for my pictures, I was just looking for some details that I was missing from my notes, and I started seeing results from Google that started with "R_", that each of my picture's file names began with; and was shocked to find that people were already being directed to my pictures. Just for fun, while typing these words (9:15 a.m., 26-August-2009), I paused, went to Google, and searched the web for "Lovecraft Providence Centennial" (without the quotation marks); care to guess what came up first? The answer is... "Collection: Lovecraft's Providence, From A Different Angle".

I choose Flickr as the repository of my images, because of the convenience for me, and the easy world-wide access to the full resolution pictures for anyone that might be interested too. This is a "Pro" account, meaning that the picture sizes and quantities are not limited; and as long as I pay the $24.95 per year, these files will be there 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. The account is currently paid for through August 2011; and I plan to extend it as long as there is activity at the site. And if I die in the meantime, and it drops back to being a free account, which will limit the picture sizes, and also limit the access to only the last 200 pictures uploaded, anyone can "Gift" a Pro account status to the account, and everything (800+ pictures) will still be there, and in full sizes for another year. If I'm dead, and no one is interested, the pictures will just sit there until needed by someone else in the future who is willing to spring for the upgrade.

LNN: How does Lovecraft fit into your life (besides compelling you to take pilgrimages to the East Coast)?

WEH: H. P. Lovecraft, as an area of interest, fascination, and study, is still one of my favorite topics because of the many different and ever expanding facets of Life related to him, his works, and his inspiration.

I've been a Lovecraft fan/collector for the better part of 40 years; from young and lean, too old and fat. And I’m still collecting files and books (like the upcoming two volume set of H. P. Lovecraft & Robert E. Howard letters from Hippocampus Press). I usually don't know anyone in my everyday life that is aware of H. P. Lovecraft; and when I do finally meet someone that has as much interest as I do, I usually end up thinking, "This person is really strange!" While I'm sure they are thinking along the lines of, "This guy really gives me the creeps!"

Maybe it’s just "The Innsmouth Look!"

or perhaps it's the strange "Colour Out of Space" (Lovecraft's British spelling) that's makes us all glow in a strange unearthly way.

What's really strange about sharing common interests, is that no matter how focused the interest is, "Lovecraft" for example, which seems on the surface rather specific, among living breathing people, breaks down into some of the following categories for each individual's personal areas of interest: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Letters, Poetry, Movies (Studio, Independent, Amateur, features, shorts), Philosophy, Science, Race/Racism, Religion (or lack of), Cthulhu Mythos/Non-Mythos, Gaming, Music, History, Providence, New England, Weird Tales, Other Writers (Howard, Smith, etc.), Research, Studies, Writing, Reading, Watching, Art, Images, Internet, Sex Shops (!), Costumes, Goth Life-Styles, Ghouls, Dagon, Photography, Yog-Sothoth, Cthulhu, The Occult, Satanism, The Never-Ending Versions of The Necronomicon, E-Books, Audio Books, Language, Hitler, Sexuality, Cats, The North End of Boston, Copp's Hill Burying Ground, Pickman, Harvard, Reality, Astronomy, Swan Point Cemetery, Comics/Comix, Anime, Collecting, Listening, Talking, Performing, and more!

And after you find out how little two Lovecraftians actually have in common, all of their other life differences come crashing in; and the gamers go off to play their favorite games, the readers go off to read their favorite books, the movie fans go off to watch their favorite movies, the smokers go hang out to smoke, the religious go off to church, the drinkers go off to drink, the Vegans walk away from the Carnivores in disgust, those with kids go home to free up the babysitter, the young music lovers go party with others their own age, the singles head for their favorite pick-up spot, the married couples return to their safe havens, and the old go back to their quieter spaces to think about what they've just heard and seen.

All of which still fascinates me.

LNN: Any future Lovecraft-inspired plans you would like to share?

WEH: Yes. My ongoing expansion of the titles, descriptions & trivia, street-by-street sets, and mapping of the images that I have uploaded to Flickr; so this collection will stand for a long time to come as a visual and historical reference work. And this entire collection will also be put on DVD-R's once it is finalized; with copies going to the John Hay Library of Brown University in Providence, as well as other groups or organizations that might like copies. I'm also working through every social-networking system I can access to spread the word about these pictures; with the hopes that people who see them will also spread the word that they are available. I want these pictures to be around long after I am gone!

LNN: Anything else you would like to put on the record?

WEH: I'd like to hear/read from anyone else that attended the H. P. Lovecraft Centennial Celebration; especially Will Murray, Jon B. Cooke, S. T. Joshi, and the rest of the "Friends of Lovecraft".

Anyone can reach me at "willhart at roadrunner dot com".

I've had really good communication with the John Hay Library, and the Providence Library, indicating they believe the pictures will also be useful to many in Providence; and that's all I can ask for.

Plus, I have reason to believe that Leigh Blackmore (see F_34), the Australian fan who traveled farther than anyone else to attend the celebration, not only took a similar number of pictures to mine, but has near future plans to digitize his, and put them out for public viewing too! His email to me recently was a real treat, because I remembered his being the long-distance traveler, but I didn't have an email address for him until he saw one of my many notices going around about the pictures.

A trivia question: Does anyone else have a CTHULHU license plate?

LNN: The idea has occured to me, but I think actually securing one might jeopardize my marriage, so I have had to pass for the time being!

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