The Haunter Of The Dark

     When I was a lad of ten at summer camp in the 1960's, I was scared shitless by a spooky story that one of the counselors told us about a guy trapped inside a cemetary  mausoleum. At the time, I didn't know who was responsible for the chilling tale but I subsequently discovered about eight years later it was written by Howard Philips Lovecraft and I've been an avid fan ever since.

     “The Haunter Of The Dark” is another of Lovecraft's stories that is part of an unofficial “trilogy” contributed to by none other than a very young Robert Bloch who was in correspondence with Lovecraft at the time. Though the story can be linked to the Cthulhu Mythos, I don't think it was intentionally so. In it, it tells of an abandoned and desecrated church in Providence Rhode Island that harbors a mysterious crystal that can summon an intra-dimensional supernatural being if gazed upon for too long. Here's a nice synopsis of the story for those of you that might be interested:

     An aspect of the story that always interested me was the description of the desecrated church that the hero of the story could see from his garret window. Though my research failed to find the Providence church that Lovecraft describes in his story (assuming that such a church even exists), there is a church in New Bedford that fills the bill quite nicely, it being St. Antony of Padua Parish on Acushnet Avenue (see photo at right). As seen from the westbound side of I-195, it dominants the North End of the city. I have always wondered if this church was the actual inspiration for the author considering his many excursions throughout Massachusetts and New England.

St. Anthony of Padua church in New Bedford

     Anyway, I set out to make a diorama of the evil structure using my 3D printers along with an electronic assist from my go to source for such things, that being Stan Kozial at Starling Technologies. This link should take you there:


     The first step was to get a church for the scene. I initially started my search with model railroad kits in either HO or N scale but their appearance just didn't match the grandeur of what I wanted to depict and the cost was outrageous. As has been the case in a number of my recent projects, I explored the 3D printing world to see what I could find and I wasn't disappointed. Many of the churches and cathedrals I found were much more expansive (and expensive) than I wanted but I did find about half a dozen that worked. I finally settled on one called Arlington Street Church which didn't exactly match what I was looking for (it only had one spire) but it was close enough.

     I initially considered printing the church using my filament printer but decided to go with my resin printer since I could get much better detail with that medium. Because of the size I wanted, I had to cut the church into two parts so it could fit on my resin printer with one part being its steeple and the other the lower half. Once printed, I ended up with a nice roughly 5” x 10”structure.

     The next step was to clean up the church and add more detail. Do to the nature of the construction used in 3D resin printing, the interior of the structure was loaded with supports which were necessary for the roof as it printed. I removed most of this material to accommodate the electronics that would be added later. To the roof surfaces, I added N scale slate material from N Scale Architect. I cut a hole in the main roof and one in the roof panels near the entrance suggesting the rundown condition of the building. I boarded up the doorways using small strips of balsa wood to finish the structure's construction.

     For the base, I used a 11” x 14” wooden plaque I purchased at the craft store. I made a raised area that the church would sit on out of 1/8” foam board. I finished up the area with a random coating of various ground foams to look like dead or diseased turf over the whole surface as well as dead shrubs and the like. I added a simple tree armature I made out of wire and coated with modeling paste which I painted a medium gray.

     Around the perimeter of the foam board, I glued narrow strips of Chooch brand N scale stone wall material to simulate retaining walls. Around THAT perimeter, I installed 1/16” thick strips of scribed plastic sheet to resemble sidewalks to which I added lengths of 1/64”square wood stock for the curbs. On the sidewalk areas, I placed some street lights and hydrants from my N scale stash for added detail.

A successful resin print. Although there were voids in the roof area, they didn't matter because I was going to wreck the roof after I added the scale slate roofing sheets anyway.

An obviously failed print.  This was fairly frustrating for not only the time wasted but the loss of resin material from several attempts. But as they say, practice makes perfect

     To make the church look foreboding, I attempted to match the colors cheme of the aforementioned New Bedford church with it's very dark reddish brown and random black encrusted features. The closest I could get was applying red primer from a rattle can and then a dry brush application of dark gray with a black wash over the whole surface. The roof was painted a dark blue to resemble slate which I again dry brushed with dark gray and black washes.

     For the electronics, I bored a hole up into the church steeple to allow me to fish the LED into the level I wanted to illuminate, roughly 1/3 of the way up. I secured the battery pack in the base with a screw and cut a slot in the bottom rear of the church for the on/off switch. For all of these, I used a few miniature plug and socket arrangements to simplify any access issues like replacing dead batteries or burnt out LEDs.

     The was a challenging project primarily due the fact I had several failed prints (see photos above) along with trying the match the color scheme to the actual church. Nevertheless I enjoyed this build very much although it probably only appeals to weirdos like me but that's the whole point of the hobby, isn't it? 5/15/2023

A very brief video (~2mins) showing the cursed church in "action".  There's no narration but be sure to turn on your PC speakers to hear the creepy music.