In front of the Athenæum on Benefit Street stands a Gothic Revival fountain beckoning you to drink…
Donated by Athenæum neighbor Anna Eddy Richmond in 1873, this granite and marble fountain was designed by the renowned Boston architectural firm of Ware & Van Brunt. It is likely the first public drinking fountain in Providence, and possibly one of the very first constructed in the United States.
Installed at a time when fresh drinking water was scarce, the fountain was at once beautiful and useful. The library’s Board prepared a statement “to express to Mrs Richmond their grateful appreciation of the generous liberality which has prompted her to bestow upon the Athenæum this costly and gratifying benefaction, not only for the adornment of these grounds, but also for the refreshment and comfort of the community.”
Its curved inscription reads “Come Hither Every One That Thirsteth.” A longtime legend claims that all those who drink from it are bound to always return to Providence.
The fountain was restored to working order in 2018, making national headlines.