Rhode Island Picture Post Cards
The Athenaeum - Fourth Oldest Library in America
Providence, Rhode Island - 1910
(Scroll Down for History and Background Information)

The Providence Library Company was founded as an independent Membership Supported  Library at Providence, Rhode Island in 1753. The library merged with an earlier library in 1836 to become the Providence Athenaeum

The Providence Athenaeum was originally constructed in 1838 by the noted Philadelphia architect, William Strickland. The building was designed in Greek Revival, which was a popular style in American architecture from around 1820 to the late 1830s. 

A new addition was added to the structure in 1978. Designed by Warren Platner; the new wing provided an extensive children's area, a rare book room and additional office space.

The Providence Athenaeum is located on Benefit Street and is home to over 159, 000 books including many rare works and first editions. The library also contains the latest periodicals, magazines and tapes. The library's collections also include many famous paintings and works of art.


There were no tax-supported public libraries in Colonial America. Libraries were usually privately organized and supported by member/owners who purchased shares in the institution. The early librarians were paid from membership dues, rental fees or annual assessments.

Athenaeum is spelled
"Atheneum" on the postcard - I have seen it spelled both ways and Webster's Dictionary includes both spellings.

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