A Portrait of H.P. Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft, the father of 20th Century “soft horror” has inspired this year’s Halloween programming at Hamond Castle. 

Cosmic Horror Adaptations to Replace Halls of Darkness in COVID-Conscious Halloween Program 

Halloween season is typically “Hammond Castle Museum time.”  With its winding gothic rooms perched cliffside high over the sea, it’s no wonder the museum leans into spooky events that have attracted many a visitor every October.  This year is the same on theme, but with a creative twist on deployment that nods to a “hot, hot, hot” spooky television series currently running on HBO. 

This season, Hammond Castle will offer a room to room-to-room theater performance of The Horror of Abbadia Mare, an adaptation of five H.P. Lovecraft stories set within the Castle and adapted around one of America’s most prolific inventors of his time, John Hays Hammond Jr. The Horror-Fan culture will recognize many of the elements of H.P. Lovecraft stories woven together with catastrophic results of Hammond’s insatiable curiosity and research at the archives of Miskatonic University into his family’s dark past. 

The five adaptations include Lovecraft’s: Dunwich Horror, Dreams in the Witch House, The Hound, The Color Out of Space, and From Beyond. Set in the fall of 1929, Hammond falls prey to his genealogy which was cursed nearly four centuries ago. As guests move through the inner rooms of the castle they come upon various members of the Hammond household and are drawn into a story of frantic and tragic happenings within the Castle’s walls. 

Performances begin at 6 pm and run every 15 minutes through 9 pm on Friday, October 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th. Performances are limited to 8 audience members at a time. Each story is approximately eight to 10 minutes long and the program runs 60 minutes in total. This program is appropriate for children ages 13 years and older. Tickets are $25 each. Advance ticket purchase is required, and tickets may be purchased online at the museum’s website. 

Hammond Castle Museum has stood on the rocky shores of Gloucester’s coastline for nearly 100 years and presents as the perfect backdrop set right in “Lovecraft Country,” (read: Essex County).  The site-specific adaptation was conceptualized by Creative Director and Curator Scott Cordiner and Tour Director Faith Palermo to incorporate many aspects of Hammond Castle and actual pieces of the museum’s archives.   

“H. P. Lovecraft and a number of his stories have an essence which connects science with horror with otherworldliness.  We peer into an abyss which bridges the arcane past with the mystery of other dimensions.  Hammond sought a bridge between the past, present, and future through his museum, which housed ancient medieval artifacts, and an adjoining laboratory, which sought to invent the future.” said Cordiner.  

The museum is retiring the Halls of Darkness in consideration of current health and safety guidelines as set for by the City of Gloucester and the State of Massachusetts. 

Howard Phillips Lovecraft is widely regarded as the most influential horror writer of his time and the father of “modern horror.”  Lovecraft is best known for the creation of "Cthulhu Mythos”, a collection of tales that loosely link the various subhuman entities and supernatural beings that Lovecraft created.  Lovecraft’s first cosmic horror novel was published in 1928.  Lovecraft, like Hammond, chose to read and write throughout the night often sleeping late into the day.  His work did not receive notoriety until several years after his death in 1937.  His body of work is said to have inspired horror writers including Stephen King, Peter Straub and Neil Gaiman. His stories have a dedicated following of cosmic horror fans, has influenced numerous movies, and is the basis of HBO’s current television drama series Lovecraft Country.  

John Hays Hammond Jr., known as “The Father of Radio Control,” was one of America’s most prolific inventors and a protégé of Guglielmo Marconi, Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, and Alexander Graham Bell.  Built from 1926 through 1929, and incorporated as a museum in 1930, the Castle’s architectural style is a mix of a medieval castle, French chateau, and a Gothic cathedral. It was custom built to encompass Hammond’s private residence, laboratory, and museum quality collection of architectural elements such as the facades of medieval shops and doorways from chateaus.   

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