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A historic home in Salem finds its way into Lovecraft’s fiction

The old Crowinshield house in Salem MA, inspiration for Lovecraft’s story “The Thing On the Doorstep”
The Crowninshield Bentley House c.1727-30. Click here to view larger and more images from Salem, Massachusetts. 
Part of the Peabody Essex Museum and available for tours, June through October
126 Essex Street at Washington Square
 

“I lied when I said she had gone away. I killed her. I had to. It was sudden, but we were alone and I was in my right body. I saw a candlestick and smashed her head in. She would have got me for good at Hallowmass. I buried her in the farther cellar storeroom under some old boxes and cleaned up all the traces. The servants suspected next morning, but they have such secrets that they dare not tell the police. I sent them off, but God knows what they—and others of the cult—will do.” H.P Lovecraft, The Thing on the Doorstep

Few people realize who read H.P. Lovecraft’s short story The Thing On The Doorstep, that the old Crowinshield house existed, and exists still. Beginning with John Crowinshield who sprung from humble roots and passed on his ambitious nature to his children, four generations of Crowinshields lived in this house, sometimes harmoniously, sometimes not. The Crowinshields began as fish merchants and sea captains, and worked their way up till they owned their own wharf and made a fortune in trade with the far east. The Crowinshield seed gave rise to politicians serving under presidents, generals, admirals, as well as notable artists.

Lovecraft first visited Salem in April, 1923 and came back often. It’s believed that he modeled the fictional town of Arkham on Salem, and was no doubt struck by the staid, colonial architecture, as well as the particularly colorful family name.

 

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