Redwood Library and Athenaeum
The Redwood Library and Athenaeum is a private subscription library at 50 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island. Founded in 1747, it is the oldest community library still occupying its original building in the United States.

The original section of the building was constructed in 1750 by the architect Peter Harrison. Only the Library Company of Philadelphia, founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin and the Charleston Library Society, founded in 1748, are older. The Redwood Library and Athenaeum predates the New York Society Library, founded in 1754, and the Boston Athenaeum, founded in 1807. Designed in the manner of Italian Renaissance Architect Andrea Palladio, in the Georgian- Palladian style, it was the first classical public building built in America. The main facade, facing Bellevue avenue, is based upon a plate in Edward Hoppus' Andrea Palladio's Architecture published in 1735. The oldest section, today called the Harrison Room, still houses the majority of the original books that were purchased as a collection in London. Occupying British troops allegedly looted numerous books (many of which were later returned) prior to the Battle of Rhode Island during the American Revolution. In 1932, historian and architect Norman Isham restored the eighteenth century Harrison room to what he concluded was its original appearance. The Library's modern collection now includes more than 160,000 volumes as well as a museum collection of art and artifacts. The building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966. Ezra Stiles, influential founder of Brown University and later president of Yale University, was one of the most prominent librarians at the Library. The ceiling of the library collapsed in 2003 and extensive renovations took place.

Building Activity

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