AFA Winter 2016 - page 150

he Redwood Library and Athenaeum is a classic: an
architectural landmark, a treasury of great books, a
sanctuary for scholarship, and a cultural icon (Fig. 1).
As the oldest library in continuous use in the nation,
it has been devoted since its inception to the art of inquiry and
learning inspired by the ideals of the Enlightenment. The Doric
style portico still greets visitors to the building, while within its
walls await generations of Newport’s leading merchants, ministers,
and men and women of letters, captured in portraits by Gilbert
Stuart and others, all still watching over the institution they
founded and fostered over the centuries.
Newport’s cultural flowering in the early eighteenth century
laid the groundwork for the formation of the Redwood Library.
Made rich from sea trade, the city became a vibrant center for the
arts and crafts. Upon this scene of wealth and creativity entered
the eminent philosopher, Dean George Berkeley, who arrived in
A Classic Revisited
The Redwood Library and Athenaeum
in Newport, Rhode Island
by John R. Tschirch
Fig. 1:
Library and
Athenaeum in
Newport, RI.
Photograph by
Andrea Hansen
courtesy of the
Redwood Library
and Athenaeum.
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