Photos from the Institute of Urban Speleological Studies and Archeology.
At a party last night I met someone who graduated from Bradford College in the 1980's. Talking with him reminded me of my favorite piece of modern folklore floating around the Web - The Necronomicon is hidden under Bradford College! Cue dramatic music.
For those readers not well versed in nerd culture, The Necronomicon is a book of evil magic that first appeared in the short stories of horror writer (and Rhode Island native) H.P. Lovecraft. Although Lovecraft died in 1937, his fiction grew in popularity posthumously, and other writers imitated his style and adopted his monstrous deities as their own.
Strangely, copies of The Necronomicon, began to appear for sale. In the 1940's, ads in book-seller's guides requested copies of it, or advertised copies for sale at high prices. In the 1960's, a copy of The Necronomicon was printed in a limited edition of 600, and by the 1970's several different versions of the cursed tome could be purchased in paperback. Although most of these are clearly hoaxes, the pagan author John Wisdom Gonce III claims that the most popular of these Necronomicons, writen by Peter Levenda under the pseudonym Simon, actually contains harmful magickal instructions. The Necronomicon has also appeared in countless horror movies, most famously The Evil Dead series. (The Necronomicon Files by Daniel Harms and John Gonce III is a great source for details about all this.)
But again, The Necronomicon is just fiction, isn't it? Lovecraft just made it up because he needed a spooky magical tome for his stories, right? Some modern occultists have disagreed. For example, Kenneth Grant claims claims that Lovecraft was a natural born adept, although he didn't know it and traveled in his dreams to astral realms where he found The Necronomicon. He then used materials from this book in his fiction, not realizing he was transmitting true magickal knowledge. Others think that although Lovecraft wrote fiction, he was actually a powerful occultist, and incorporated real occult lore into his stories for the initiated to find.
Even if The Necronomicon is real, why would it be under Bradford College, a small liberal arts school that closed in 2000? Well, according to the story floating around the Web, Lovecraft hid the book in one of the college's tunnels while he was dating a Bradford co-ed. (Apparently, even demented evil geniuses need to get out and date.) Recent Bradford students seem to have accepted the story as part of the college's lore. You can see some photos by ghost hunters of the tunnels here.
Bradford College closed in 2000 due to fiscal problems, and is now the campus of Zion Bible College. It seems ironic that a school training Pentecostal preachers would be located on top of the world's evilest book, but stranger things have happened.