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Athenaeum Row

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c. 1845. 257–267 Benefit St.
  • (HABS)
  • (Photograph by Andrew Hope)

The Thomas Poynton Ives family, which contributed the site for the Athenaeum, appropriately built Athenaeum Row as an investment property beside it. This Ionic-fronted row, originally five attached houses, allegedly introduced the “English plan” for row houses to Providence. The principal rooms were not at entrance level, as was then common here, but at the next level, corresponding to the English first story or the Continental piano nobile, which the steep slope made sensible. Innovative and sophisticated for Providence, English planning little affected the city's building patterns at the time, although there are Victorian successors—for example, the Knowles Row, nearby, which provides an interesting comparison ( PR80).

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Athenaeum Row", [Providence, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 84-85.

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