Of Classic Proportions: The Building of the Providence Athenæum
June 30 – September 23, 2017
In 1836, the Providence Library Company (1753) and the Providence Athenæum (1831) made the decision to dissolve their institutions and reform as the library we know today as the Providence Athenæum. Since 1838, the library has occupied its stately home on Benefit Street, bearing witness to almost two centuries’ worth of the hustle and bustle of the city of Providence.
This summer, take a walk up the Athenæum’s granite steps and wander down to the Philbrick Rare Book Room to learn all about the history of the building itself: from conception to construction. The exhibition includes photographs, manuscripts, and architectural drawings from the Athenæum’s archives.
The edifice, you are aware, is to occupy a central and commanding site. It is to be fashioned after a Grecian model, with a granite front and fluted columns of the same material. When completed, it will be hailed as an accession to those monuments of taste and munificence which already adorn our city. It will, after all, prove but a splendid failure if this Corporation and the public spend a fruitless enthusiasm upon its classic proportions, instead of carrying forward with renewed and concentrated energy, the high objects to which it is dedicated.
The Board of Directors & Building Committee, 1838