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Articles

Lovecraft in Brooklyn: A Reading by Candlelight in Green-Wood Cemetery

by Allison Meier / 23 Jul 2014

article-imageClay McLeod Chapman reading at the Pierrepont monument in Green-Wood Cemetery (photograph by Mitch Waxman)

Robert Suydam sleeps beside his bride in Greenwood Cemetery. No funeral was held over the strangely released bones, and relatives are grateful for the swift oblivion which overtook the case as a whole. The scholar’s connexion with the Red Hook horrors, indeed, was never emblazoned by legal proof; since his death forestalled the inquiry he would otherwise have faced.
— H. P. Lovecraft, The Horror at Red Hook

It was with those strange words in mind from the the late H. P. Lovecraft's lexicon of unfathomable horror that Atlas Obscura staged a candlelit reading in Brooklyn's historic Green-Wood Cemetery. Lovecraft lived in Brooklyn Heights near Red Hook at 169 Clinton Street from 1925 to 1926, rather unhappily, and is said to have roamed the lush grounds of Green-Wood. It's during this time that he wrote "The Horror at Red Hook," which, while heavy on his outright xenophobia, tapped into an unsettling urban anxiety. 

This Monday we invited an intimate group of Atlas Obscura followers to Green-Wood Cemetery to hear the story read in its entirety, responding to the real presence of the Suydam family interred in the 19th century burial space. Respecting the grounds as a place of memorial, we visited the Whitney mausoleum, paused beneath a weeping beech tree, stopped amongst relocated 18th century tombs, and ended at the Pierrepont memorial, a monument to one of the prominent Brooklynites who helped establish the cemetery in 1838. Readers Clay McLeod Chapman, Bess Lovejoy, and Mitch Waxman each gave the stages of the sinister narrative of occult mysteries a distinct and resonant horror. 

Our final destination was the Suydam mausoleum (usually closed to the public), where the eerie notes of the Saw Lady, aka Natalia Paruz, accompanied the serving of drinks along the cemetery road from the Lovecraft Bar (opening next week in the East Village). 

Below are some photographs from the evening by Kathryn Yu and Mitch Waxman. Many thanks to all who joined us for the adventure, to readers Clay McLeod Chapman, Bess Lovejoy, and Mitch Waxman, as well as the Saw Lady and Lovecraft Bar for making it a success. And of course, thanks to the Green-Wood Historic Fund for collaborating with us on an event that was able to showcase the beauty of the cemetery and link in this literary history. To join us on our next event, sign up for the NYC Obscura Society mailing list

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Clay McLeod Chapman reading in the Whitney Mausoleum (photograph by Kathryn Yu)

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Departing the candlelit Whitney Mausoleum (photograph by Kathryn Yu)

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