Providence Athenaeum

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I was so excited: I had been wanting to visit the Providence Athenaeum for several years (I can’t remember how I heard about it, but it was so obviously cool, it was the first thing on my list of  ‘must see things’ when we planned our trip to Providence).

First appearances were a little disappointing. Not much different than a decent library in a pleasant, if minor, Carnegie building.

But then I saw the bust of H.P. Lovecraft and went downstairs and saw the high backed reading chairs, nineteenth century looking settee, reading nooks in the windows, bookcases filled with poetry and plays reaching up and onward, racks of magazines, wooden spindles holding newspapers, tables marked ‘reserved for readers,’ and the whole thing done up like a classic English gentleman’s club (which is not, I repeat NOT, a synonym for strip club, in this particular case, but something more like the sitting where half the action in the old PBS Sherlock Holmes series took place – the one with Jeremy Brett that actually took place in Victorian England).

I sat in a table in the corner and read from the poetry of George Meredith and later from Bernard Berenson’s learned dilettante writings on Renaissance paintings. Later, I pulled down a book, Rudiments of Colours and Colouring by Fields, and opened up to the table of contents and there, on page seventy-one, was a chapter on chrome yellow – the very same color after which was named my favorite Aldous Huxley novel!

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