The Shunned House of the title is based on an actual house in Providence, Rhode Island, built around 1763 and still standing at 135 Benefit Street; Lovecraft was familiar with the house because his aunt, Lillian Clark, lived there in 1919-20 as a companion to Mrs. H. C. Babbit.
But it was another house in Elizabeth, New Jersey that actually provoked Lovecraft to write the story. As he wrote in a letter:
On the northeast corner of Bridge Street and Elizabeth Avenue is a terrible old house — a hellish place where night-black deeds must have been done in the early seventeen-hundreds — with a blackish unpainted surface, unnaturally steep roof, and an outside flight of stairs leading to the second story, suffocatingly embowered in a tangle of ivy so dense that one cannot but imagine it accursed or corpse-fed. It reminded me of the Babbit House in Benefit Street…. Later its image came up again with renewed vividness, finally causing me to write a new horror story with its scene in Providence and with the Babbit House as its basis.
It is interesting to note that this location is, at least at present, the site of a plaza named in honor of Winfield Scott, who was also the namesake of Lovecraft’s own father.
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