Boston’s Athenaeum

The Boston Athenæum is a private library on Beacon Hill that first opened its doors in 1807.

For those of you (like me) who wondered what “athenaeum” means, the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as:

  1. An association of persons interested in scientific and literary pursuits, meeting for the purpose of mutual improvement; a literary or scientific club;
  2. A building or institution in which books, periodicals, and newspapers are provided for use; a literary club-room, reading-room, library.

The word athenaeum is derived from Athena, the goddess of wisdom who inspires intellectual pursuits.

The Athenæum is located at 10½ Beacon Street in a building designed by Edward Clarke Cabot.

I joined a few year ago because it seemed like a Boston thing to do. I have to admit that I have taken little advantage of the membership. The one thing I have done a few times is bring the kids in for story time. There is a great children’s reading room, with lots of nooks for kids to curl up with a book. It also has a great out the window that overlooks the Old Granary Burying Ground.

The Boston Athenæum was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1966.

It has enough credentials to get listed on the 1,000 Great Places in Massachusetts. These are the places I have written about so far:

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One thought on “Boston’s Athenaeum”

  1. The Athenaeum is one of my favorite places on earth. It’s like a country club for people who’d rather read than golf. Actually, I’d rather do anything than golf, but that’s another story… Cheers, Doug.

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