Lonely Planet review for Providence Athenaeum
Immediately east of downtown, you’ll find College Hill, where you can see the city’s colonial history reflected in the multihued 18th-century houses that line Benefit Street on the East Side. Benefit St is a fitting symbol of the Providence renaissance, rescued by local preservationists in the 1960s from misguided urban-renewal efforts that would have destroyed it. Its treasures range from the 1708 Stephen Hopkins House, named for the ten-time governor and Declaration of Independence signer, to the clean Greek Revival lines of William Strickland’s 1838 Providence Athenaeum. This is a library of the old school, with plaster busts and oil paintings filling in spaces not occupied by books. Edgar Allen Poe used to court ladies here.