Providence | College Hill, The Athenaeum, and H.P. Lovecraft

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Our/My plan for site seeing downtown Providence literally came down to me seeing a photo on Instagram of a very slanted street lined with historic European-style houses and knowing that I wanted to go there. God bless hashtags — the best travel resource since gift shop postcards.

We walked through Burnside Park, crossed the river then walked up the hill to Thomas Street. Fleur-de-lys Studios is hard to miss with its brightly painted bas-relief facade. Formerly (and currently?) an art studio and featured in an H.P. LovecraftΒ –who grew up and lived most of his life in Providence –story. The Fleur-de-lys building is now owned by the Providence Art Club which still uses the building for studio and gallery space.

Our walk continued as we turned right on Benefit Street, past RISD (scarred by years of design school I had desire to visit), and on to the Athenaeum. If you love old libraries (I do!) this will make your head explode: three floors of books with all kinds of hidden cubby holes and cozy niches to tuck away with a treasured book. We tiptoed around the mezzanine peering into the alcoves trying hard to be quiet as the old wooden floor squeaked beneath us. From time to time we caught a cool summer breeze from the opened windows and imagined ourselves spending all our afternoons here, reading.


Thomas Street / home of the Fleur-de-lys house as portrayed in the H.P. Lovecraft story,Β The Call of Cthulhu. This street/house looks like it was cut and paste from another time and location.
College Hill / historic neighborhood(s) containing Brown University and RISD. Great for walking around especially if a fan of historic architecture and/or H.P. Lovecraft.
Providence Athenaeum / free / beautiful gem of a library designed by famed architect William Strickland. The library itself is private (to borrow books you must be a member), but is open to the public and makes a great location to spend the afternoon browsing the stacks or just reading the newspaper. It also houses a bust of H.P. Lovecraft who, if you didn’t already guess, has a pretty huge presence in Providence.

Thayer Street / shop-lined street near Brown University featuring the typical types of shops and restaurants you would expect of a college town: the college bookstore, a hippie place selling incense, pizza parlor, etc.

Tealuxe / Inexpensive / Tea Bar with an apothecary look and feel. You can pretty much find any kind of tea/tea blend here, iced or hot.


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