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I followed the 1A west and south through Salem, and then branched eastward on the 114 onto the peninsula that forms Marblehead. This is the town that inspired Lovecraft's story The Festival. It is a fairly quaint area, densely packed with old houses and a few small retail shops. 

Star of the Sea Cemetary

I paused on the way into town to check out the Star of the Sea cemetery. Thereafter, Eckhardt's map did a good job of guiding me to the principle spots of Lovecraftian interest.
St. Michael's Episcopal Church

St. Michael's Episcopal Church, a squarish and rather ungainly building, is said to be the inspiration for the church where the cultists converge in The Festival. The very small burial ground to the side and the "square" in front (actually a curved driveway) certainly match the description.
Old North Church
Considerably more striking is the Old North Church, nearby on Pleasant St. With its huge and impressive white steeple, it reminds me more strongly of Lovecraft's description of the church from a distance: "a focus of crazy alleys at the top of a high hill in the centre of the town, where perched a great white church." The Old North Church makes this type of dominating impression from a distance, whereas St. Michael's does not. However, neither one is on top of a high hill.
Alley Off Washington St.
A quaint feature is the steep flight of alley steps branching off Washington Street, which Eckhardt indicates in his map and which Lovecraft mentions in a letter, according to Loucks.
Bowen House 1695

After passing a number of intriguing old houses, I came to a black building with red trim and a light green roof: Bowen House, dating to 1695, and used as "the home of my people" in The Festival. It certainly is a bit ominous. However, the front has only a slight overhang, and the intersection in front of it is fairly broad, unlike Lovecraft's description:

The upper part overhung the narrow grass-grown street and nearly met the overhanging part of the house opposite, so that I was almost in a tunnel . . .

Old Burial Hill

A few blocks further, I came to the Old Burial Ground, which is much as Lovecraft described it. The sign at the bottom announces:

1630 / 1930. OLD BURIAL HILL. Established in 1638, one of the oldest graveyards in New England. Site of first meeting-house. Six hundred revolutionary heroes and several early pastors were interred at the top of the hill. Massachusetts Bay Colony, Tercentenary Commission.

A pathway with stairs and a railing leads up the hill toward the top, where a gazebo forms a pleasant spot for viewing the surrounding area. A great variety of markers are scattered about the hill, whitish or dark grey, a few of them tall like pillars, others shaped like brick altars with a white slab on top. Some sections are set aside by black iron fences, and a few graves are lost off to the side among the trees. The hill overlooks a pleasant pond.

Darkness brought an end to my second day of exploration and I turned back towards Danvers.

Now, walking is thirsty work, so I stopped many times during my trip to get something to drink. I made an interesting discovery in this way. Where I come from, liquor stores are essentially convenience stores that carry junk food and everyday items along with some liquor. Not so in Massachusetts. You go into a liquor store there and it's wall to wall bottles. A local chain called Kappy's is particularly impressive in this regard, for not only is it completely specialized, but each store is of heroic proportions. I guess people have to do something to while away the long winter nights. Lovecraft, temperance advocate that he was, would doubtless have disapproved.

On a vaguely related topic, I found that Dunkin' Donuts seems to have a near-monopoly on the donut business in Massachusetts. The donuts are about as appetizing as hard tack. Some hardy entrepreneur clearly needs to introduce decent donuts to New England.

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Copyright 1997, 2004 by Joseph Morales