Tag Archives: Athenaeum

Athenaeum Providence

Athenaeum. Cool word. Cooler building.

The Providence Athenaeum is the United States’ third oldest subscription library. It was founded in 1753, 23 years before the Declaration of Independence, but 22 years after Ben Franklin founded one in Philly.

Philly wins!

But it isn’t a contest. There is just something about bookshelves that require ladders and wooden desk chairs.
They make you want to be there.

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Athenaeum of Philadelphia

Perhaps you are smarter and more informed than I, we can have that argument later, but while walking with my wife through Washington Square one evening I came across a word I had never heard before.

Athenaeum founded 1814.

It was inscribed on a bronze plaque with no other explanations. Intriguing.

Athenaeum of Philadelphia

I had lived most of my life just calling the library “the library”, till arriving in Philly when with a snicker I read every sign that read “Free library”. I never knew any other kind. Till now.

Apparently the word means a place where printed materials are kept, available for reading. Turns out this private circulation library is open to the public 9-5 Mon-Fri.

Staircase to the stacks.

You must buy a membership to check out a book, and they say there is a members only reading room, but any old person, like me, can stroll right into this room.

main reading room

If I make an appointment I can do research here.

research room

I didn’t read a thing on this trip, I just strolled around being a creep with my iPhone.

in the chess room

While I may not be the best, I enjoy a game of chess. I am horrible playing chess with friends, better in the park, I have no idea how good I am here but i intend to find out.

chess room

Why have I never heard of this place? I am not all knowing but I believe I am slightly more informed about this city than the average Joe; so how did I miss this all these years?

Stacks in the research room

It was some years ago that in like fashion I discovered Philly’s civil war museum complete with Honest Abe’s death mask. I found this one slightly more interesting. I’m not sure why, but seriously, how did I miss this?

Death mask from Napoleon

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