The Providence Athenaeum: Providence’s Time Capsule

The city of Providence, Rhode Island has an artistic feel unlike any other. Its unique community and off the beaten path destinations make it a city for every kind of traveler. After living in Providence for nearly four years and being a lifelong Rhode Islander, I thought I had seen it all. It was then that I found the Providence Athenaeum, my new favorite hideaway and go-to study spot in Providence.

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The parlor. All photos taken by myself.

The Athenaeum was built in 1836 and has been attracting writers and scholars alike since its inception. Edgar Allen Poe frequented the Athenaeum during his relationship with Sarah Helen Whitman. Even H.P. Lovecraft was known to wonder around this historic library from time to time. Now, the Athenaeum attracts students looking for a quiet place to read and study.

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Second floor study nooks. All photos taken by myself.

Private desk nooks comprise the upstairs, each lined with bookshelves containing books from the last three centuries on old, hardwood floors. Many of these are travel books from the turn of the 20th century. Venture downstairs and you can find the parlor.

The parlor’s walls are covered in bookshelves from the floor to the ceiling. Beautifully upholstered and well-kept chairs and benches dot the parlor, where you can cozy up with a good book. The best part? Many of the books are fragile, so the librarians prefer to put them back themselves, which means no heavy books to put back when you’re done!

The Athenaeum truly is an ideal study spot for any student. Tourists will be transported back to the 19th century and will be able to curl up with a good book and a travel mug of coffee, which the library permits. Just don’t try to sneak in any food.

About This Site

Welcome, Adventurers!

I am a firm believer that your imagination can let you travel farther than any plane could ever bring you. That is why I have created this website to inspire travelers from all walks of life to find adventure wherever they look, and that things are not always what they appear.

So I invite you to browse this site. Find out how you can visit planets from beyond our galaxy without leaving the United States. You will see how one woman influenced some of the greatest writers in America, and be transported back in time simply by  visiting a library. Happy adventuring!

-Pibby

Feature: Sarah Helen Whitman: Providence’s Muse

Providence, 1848. Edgar Allen Poe walks up Benefit Street, entranced by more than its quaint streetlights and artistic feel. It is here that he meets the widowed Sarah Helen Whitman, who becomes the last love of his life and the inspiration for Poe and so many more revered writers of the century to create new worlds and writings out of Providence. Here is the story of Sarah Whitman, the woman behind Providence.

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Image courtesy of Poeselskabet

Sarah Helen Whitman was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1803. A bright, beautiful woman, Whitman was a spiritualist, transcendentalist, a poet, and a writer. She had married a man named John Winslow Whitman, whom with she moved to Boston. According to SantaFeKate, a local historian, “There she developed friendships with the leading literary lights of the time and place–Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow among others”.

Sarah discussed ideals of spiritualism and transcendentalism, two of the most widely accepted beliefs at the time. Merriam Webster describes transcendentalism as “a philosophy that emphasizes the a priori conditions of knowledge and experience or the unknowable character of ultimate reality or that emphasizes the transcendent as the fundamental reality”. In short, in order to understand ordinary things in the world, one must understand everything in their life from a deep, spiritual perspective. Both Emerson and Thoreau became close with Sarah Helen Whitman, and both men went to Providence to give lectures on transcendentalism.

In 1833, her husband passed away. Grieving, she spent most of her time writing, reading, and practicing four different languages that she soon became fluent in. By the time she met Edgar Allen Poe in 1848, SantaFeKate states that “she was considered the best woman poet in America”.

Her relationship with Poe was passionate. He would frequently wait for her outside her door, until Whitman’s mother banished him from the grounds. They would meet at the recently built Athenaeum, pictured below, and at Swan Point Cemetery. The two soon fell in love and, pressed by Poe, became engaged.

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Image courtesy of CestChristine

Misfortune fell upon the happy couple one day when Sarah was with some friends at the Athenaeum. According to SantaFeKate,  “Someone handed her a note saying that they had seen Poe drinking the night prior”. Sarah knew that Poe had a problem, and drinking was something she did not tolerate with him.

SantaFeKate goes on to say  “Sarah called off the wedding, fled down the street to her house, breathed a little ether (her drug of choice), and was swooning on the sofa when Edgar caught up with her. They never saw each other again, and he would be dead within 10 months”.  People say that Poe’s ghost still haunts Benefit Street, and that he can be seen outside of Sarah’s home, which still stands today.

 

Images courtesy of Wikipedia and FacultyMDC

Sarah lived another 30 years, and inspired many writers, like Poe and Emerson. H.P. Lovecraft had his photo taken outside of her home, showing that her legacy transcends time.

 

 

SOURCE LIST

 

faculty.mdc.edu

www.cestchristine.com

http://choosing-providence.blogspot.com/2014/01/sarah-and-edgar-at-athenaeum.html www.poeselskabet.dk

faculty.mdc.edu

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Helen_Whitman#/media/File:Whitman_house_Providence.jpg

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/transcendentalism

Memoir: Finding New Worlds in the Backyard

I can never thank my parents enough for kicking me out of the house for a few hours and telling me that I couldn’t play video games. If I was inside and plugged in all day, I would have never been as creative as I am today.  There were days when I wouldn’t come home until I had conquered the evil wizard that lived in the swamp behind my friend’s house. His bent back and crooked smile would try to lure our younger friends into his grasp, but Sterl and I protected them. Other days, I would build forts and prepare for battles. My formative years were spent exploring new, strange worlds with my best friend while never being more than a quarter of a mile away from my backyard.

Growing up with an eccentric friend is not always easy, especially when he has an imagination like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Kids made fun of him in school. They said that he was a freak for loving medieval history. They teased him for almost everything he did, even called him “Sterl the girl” and told him he was gay.  I didn’t care, he was my friend and we had each other.

Every day after school we would walk back to his house, grab oatmeal crème pies and Goldfish, and go on an adventure. Sterl had the best backyard a kid could ever ask for. Tall pine trees, clearings, woods, and a swamp topped off the ideal scape for most of our adventures. We would take the cover of the little crab-shaped sandbox and used it as a raft, guiding ourselves through the shallow water with a stick. When we weren’t navigating the swamp, we would dock our raft amidst the small clearings that were dotted among the trees whose dark green branches hung low, making them perfect for climbing. The pine needles on the branches were long and soft, making climbing all the more easy. Sterl and I each had our own tree. While his looked out over the swamp, mine had a perfect view of the tiny hill that was covered in white and yellow flowers every spring. Sterl called this world Celtia, and it became our home for years to come.

Sterl and I went on countless adventures. On one particular day, we headed east through the woods until we found a marshy spot. The recent rain and soaked the forest floor, and solid ground could only be found at the base of the trees. Every tree base became its own island with its own name. Dinosaur Island was at the center; a huge log had fallen and was now covered in an emerald moss. We used it as a home base while we conquered countless islands, taking leaps of faith to get to each. This was one of my favorite childhood memories. Not in front of a screen or inside the house, but just enjoying nature and creating different worlds.

One day, Sterl had to go on a trip with his family, so I went over to my friend Tori’s house. Her house was small, but very modern. I remember her calling her closed off patio the “feng shui room’. Her backyard was sectioned off by an old brown picket fence, but she had a huge in-ground swimming pool and a trampoline in the middle of the yard. I was looking forward to playing outside. She, however, did not feel the same way.

“The pool’s too cold and the trampoline makes too much noise” She would complain.

She suggested we go play American Idol on the PS2 she had in her basement. It was fun, but the whole time playing we didn’t really talk much. We had completely plugged into the game, talking only inside of our own heads to focus more on the task at hand. I missed laughing with Sterl and preparing for battles and climbing trees. I missed leaping around our marshy worlds and clinging to the bases of the trees, whose solid ground still wasn’t as solid as the basement floor of Tori’s house.

Sterl and I had a falling out when we got to high school. Even though we eventually made up, our friendship was never the same. He was no longer interested in discovering new worlds. He turned his focus toward politics and is now very successful. Politics became his new solid ground, where he excelled and was embraced by those around him. I miss my time in the different worlds with the small boy with the jet black hair. I still think about Sterl’s backyard and how I would do anything to go back to it just one last time.

Star Wars Travel Guide

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Image courtesy of GamePressure

The Star Wars universe is now closer than you think! Join in visiting where Anakin and Padme had their wedding, filmed in Italy. Explore the ice caves of Hoth in Norway. Adventure awaits!

 

EPISODE I: NABOO

We all remember the scene in Attack of the Clones when Padme Amadala and Anakin Skywalker finally get married. But what really made the scene magical was the castle and lake on Naboo where they said their vows. The pristine lake that the couple gazed out on. The lake that shimmered in the background. The ornate rails that lined the villa’s gardens and terraces. It’s hard not to think of Naboo as one of the most perfect planets that exists in the Star Wars Universe.

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Image courtesy of StarWarsPlaces

This gorgeous villa was actually shot in Italy, at Villa del Balbianello. This villa rests on Lake Commo in the province of Lenno Commo. Aside from being used to capture the beauty of Naboo in Star Wars, the villa has been used to shoot several other movies, one of which for the James Bond franchise.

Visitors are welcomed to explore the villa’s grounds and take a tour of the inside, which was restored by a previous private owner before it was given back to Italy’s national garden registry.

EPISODE II: HOTH

It’s cold. It’s desolate. It’s the first time we all thought that Luke Skywalker wouldn’t make it out alive. Of course, we are talking about the frozen planet Hoth, in The Empire Strikes Back.  We watched as Luke fought for his life in the ice caves and then almost froze to death on the planet’s unforgiving tundra, which makes it the perfect travel destination for any extreme Star Wars traveler.

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Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Hoth was actually filmed at the Hardangerjøkulen Glacier in Norway. While you might think that this glacier seems like a challenge to get to, it’s pretty accessible from the town of Finse, conveniently located on the railway line.  Adventures and experienced climbers can make their way up the glacier with ease, and get some pretty cool pictures along the way.

 

EPISODE III: TATOOINE

The dry, desert planet of Tatooine is closer than ever before. True Star Wars fans know how significant this arid planet is to the films, which is why it’s included on this list. Tatooine was shot all over the world. But for the timid or first time traveler, you might want to head to Death Valley, California, and get a feel for what life was like on Aniken and Luke Skywalker’s home planet.

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Image courtesy of SBCC.

Here, fans and tourists can hike up the Mesquite sand dunes that housed Jawa’s and Sand People alike. Had enough fun on Tatooine? Death Valley is also home to Badwater Basin, a popular tourist spot.

EPISODE IV: ENDOR

Endor is the home to what might be the most adorable creatures in the Star Wars universe, the Ewoks. Yup, these adorable little bear-like beings roam the forests of Endor, and also helped Han, Luke, and Leia once or twice. Endor might be closer than you think! Forest scenes of the planet were shot in Del Norte County, California.

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Image courtesy of DadCamp

Stroll around this National Park. Del Norte is famous for their Redwoods, which provide perfect shade as you hunt to find Ewoks.

 

Episode V: MUSTAFAR

This is it, everyone. This is where it all went down. Of course, we are talking about the duel between Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, where Anakin finally took the plunge into the Dark Side. The scene was set against an erupting volcano; fitting for the tumultuous nature of this scene. The actual volcano is Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Italy.

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Image courtesy of IBTimes

This volcano, located in Sicily, has been shrouded in mythology for decades. It is said that Zeus trapped the monster Typhon under the volcano. Crew members and actors that were shooting scenes for Revenge of the Sith had to stop three times, as the erupting volcano proved too dangerous to shoot.

Star Wars Travel Guide Proposal

Long, long ago… In a galaxy far, far away…

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Courtesy of DarkSideoftheForce

One of the biggest film franchises in history was born, Star Wars. Now, with seven movies, Star Wars has taken us across the galaxy. Fans have visited 51 planets across the galaxy through the films, worlds that seemed to go far beyond what they ever thought possible and expanded their imagination. Now, those fans can visit them in real life.

With this Star Wars Travel Guide, fans of the movies will be able to visit the planets first hand. Star Wars was shot at locations all across the world, so why not explore the earth and a few other galaxies at once?

Did you know that part of the original Star Wars Saga was filmed in the U.S.A? Or did you know that the castle where Padme and Anakin got married is also where some parts of the

James Bond movies were filmed? Find out more about the Star Wars universe than you ever thought possible. Go on your own galactic adventure across the world as we visit the shot locations of Hoth, Tatooine, Endor, Naboo, and much more. Run through the forest where Han Solo escaped storm troopers only to be taken hostage by the Ewoks. We might even find some sand dunes and try to escape the Sand People.

We’ll go to Disney and check out their new Star Wars park extension, which is filled with old characters and new. We will explore glaciers, castles, parks, forests, and deserts alike in search of droids and pod racing. Above all, we will definitely pick the best place to have a light saber duel. Embark on your own galactic adventure, and let this Star Wars travel guide help you find your way.