Rhode Island January 15, 2020
The Providence Athenaeum In Rhode Island Was Just Added To A US Travel Bucket List… And We Couldn’t Agree More
Rhode Island is full of treasures, but sometimes those who live outside of New England don’t realize that. Needless to say, we were thrilled to spot an Ocean State attraction on USA Today’s recent list of
North American travel goals, some of which are pretty impressive. And if you’ve ever been to the Providence Athenaeum yourself, you know it deserves the publicity.
The Providence Athenæum's beginnings date all the way back to 1753, when a group of residents tried to come up with a way to make reading more accessible.
They all wanted to read, but they couldn't afford to have books shipped from overseas. So they created this organization, which allowed members access to a collection of books for a small fee.
The organization was officially founded in 1836, moving to its permanent home just two years later.
The property has been expanded twice, most recently in 1979.
The Athenæum, which is short for the Ath, is named for Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom.
Needless to say, this is an extremely appropriate name for such a vast collection of literary material.
As the USA Today article states, you can view 19th century copies of famous works from famous authors like Walt Whitman, whose copy of Leaves of Grass resides here (and has notes in his own handwriting).
The article also mentions that this place was a favorite hangout of Edgar Allan Poe and HP Lovecraft, which is true. Poe was even famously dumped by his girlfriend, poet Sarah Helen Whitman, here.
So what can you do here, other than wander the halls in amazement?
You can check out books, attend a reading group or workshop, see your favorite author speak, and more. Some lucky couples have even gotten married here.
There's nothing like cozying up here on a cold winter day, preparing to dive into your next great read.
For the best special access and borrowing privileges, you'll want to become a member -- it costs $165 per year ($200 for a household membership), and it's well worth it to support such a space.
While you're here, wander the grounds and check out the historic touches like the Gothic fountain.
You can always opt to schedule a group tour or take yourself on an eight point guided tour to learn more.
The Providence Athenæum is one of the oldest surviving libraries in the United States, and it's magnificent.
Hours are Monday - Thursday 10 a.m. - 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. - 6 pm., and Sunday from 1 - 5.
Have you visited the
Providence Athenaeum lately?
Address: 251 Benefit St, Providence, RI 02903, USA