O_15A College Hill – Looking West from Prospect Terrace – St. John’s Roman Catholic Church (1871) (Federal Hill) – 352 Atwells Avenue (at Sutton Street) on the Left and Rhode Island State House (1895-1904) (Downtown) – 90 Smith Street in the Center
Image by California Cthulhu (Will Hart)
Looking West from Prospect Terrace – St. John’s Roman Catholic Church (1871) – 352 Atwells Avenue and Rhode Island State House (1895-1904) – 90 Smith Street – as Frame. The Masonic Temple (1929) at 5 Avenue of the Arts is just to the left of the State House. The House at Pratt and Bowen Streets is in the Foreground
H. P. Lovecraft enjoyed spending warm afternoons reading and writing here; and he was one of the park’s most frequent visitors. The view from here was also one of Lovecraft’s favorites of Providence; and is beautifully described in "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward." It’s easy to see why this was one of his favorite haunts; and has now become one of the favorite haunts and photo spots for his fans.
Lovecraft might have been describing his own childhood, instead of that of the young Charles Dexter Ward, when he wrote the following as part of "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward": "The nurse used to stop and sit on the benches of Prospect Terrace to chat with policemen; and one of the child’s first memories was of the great westward sea of hazy roofs and domes and steeples and far hills which he saw one winter afternoon from that great railed embankment, and violet and mystic against a fevered, apocalyptic sunset of reds and golds and purples and curious greens. The vast marble dome of the State House stood out in massive silhouette, its crowning statue haloed fantastically by a break in one of the tinted stratus clouds that barred the flaming sky."
And Lovecraft’s description of St. John’s in "The Haunter of the Dark" still says it the best, "Of all the distant objects on Federal Hill, a certain huge, dark church most fascinated Blake. It stood out with especial distinctness at certain hours of the day, and at sunset the great tower and tapering steeple loomed blackly against the flaming sky. It seemed to rest on especially high ground; for the grimy facade, and the obliquely seen north side with sloping roof and the tops of great pointed windows, rose boldly above the tangle of surrounding ridgepoles and chimney-pots. Peculiarly grim and austere, it appeared to be built of stone, stained and weathered with the smoke and storms of a century and more. The style, so far as the glass could show, was that earliest experimental form of Gothic revival which preceded the stately Upjohn period and held over some of the outlines and proportions of the Georgian age."
The former Masonic Temple building (never completed due to construction stopping at the time of the Great Depression in 1929) is now the Renaissance Providence Hotel (opened 2007), a great symbol of the success of the Most Endangered Properties List. After being on the List for ten years, all of Providence was able to watch this “white elephant” transform into a luxury hotel. This project has been called “the largest historic restoration project in Rhode Island history”.
Photo taken by Will Hart on 20-August-1990.