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Address: 50 Bellevue Ave, Newport, RI 02840-3229
Phone Number:
+1 401-847-0292
09:30 - 17:30
Closed now
See all hours
Sun 13:00 - 17:00
Mon - Tue 09:30 - 17:30
Wed 09:30 - 20:00
Thu - Sat 09:30 - 17:30
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours

About the Redwood Library and Athenaeum: Chartered in 1747 by 46 prominent...

About the Redwood Library and Athenaeum: Chartered in 1747 by 46 prominent citizens of Newport with "nothing in view but the good of mankind," the Redwood Library & Athenaeum is a hybrid museum, rare book repository, and the oldest continuously operating lending library still in its original structure, the nation's oldest public Neoclassical building. Designed by Peter Harrison, the Library is a registered National Historic Landmark. The Redwood contains over 200,000 titles in its Circulating and Special Collections, with another 751 titles forming the Original Collection, purchased by the founders in 1750 and housed in the historic Harrison Room. Collections strengths include: colonial American history and material culture, early modern architecture and garden design, the history of Newport, Aquidneck Island and Rhode Island. The Redwood also possesses substantive holdings of historic printed materials, archives and private papers. Featured on permanent view is an exceptional collection of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century portraits by such artists as John Smibert, Robert Feke and Gilbert Stuart, in addition to a range of sculpture, furniture, and decorative arts. Two gallery spaces feature temporary exhibitions, while the Redwood's Reading Room, with its iconic green leather chairs and original Palladian windows, is a welcome sanctuary for visitors. Lectures, gallery talks, and musical events are scheduled throughout the year, and unique gift items and used books are available in the gift shop. As an athenaeum born of the American Enlightenment values of liberty, equality and democracy, and capitalizing on its unique position as a catalyst for intellectual pursuit across periods and disciplines, the Redwood is approaching its fourth century in the service of a rigorous and accessible humanities education for the benefit of the widest possible audience.

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 69 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 41
  • 22
    Very good
  • 5
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Visit the oldest lending library in the US!

Yes, there may be older libraries in Philadelphia and elsewhere, but this is the oldest lending library in continuous use in all of America. Pretty cool. Not only that, but it has... read more

Reviewed 1 week ago
Amesbury, Massachusetts
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69 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 69: English reviews
Amesbury, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
176 reviews
58 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 week ago

Yes, there may be older libraries in Philadelphia and elsewhere, but this is the oldest lending library in continuous use in all of America. Pretty cool. Not only that, but it has also retained its architectural integrity over the years. Early preservationists saved the oldest portion, which houses the original books in the collection, as they expanded. We highly recommend... More 

Thank ragtop_rider
Newport, Rhode Island
Level Contributor
95 reviews
26 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

Beautiful building and inside architecture. Not sure if they offert tours but know they have readings on special nights

Thank sandra r
Level Contributor
55 reviews
22 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 December 2016 via mobile

There are several lovely gifts for holiday shopping. Redwood member can receive 20% discount on all purchase. From now to March 2017 The Variable Line: Master Drawings, Renaissance to Contemporary in Van Allen Gallery.

Thank Raimund C
Guangzhou, China
Level Contributor
163 reviews
102 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 59 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 December 2016

A friend works here so we finally paid a visit here yesterday. People may walk by without paying much attention to the "mansion" but, when history of it unveils all we'd do was to awe, and to admire. That said the style of the edifice inspired Thomas Jefferson and other architects so much that he decided other federal building should... More 

Thank simonfung888
Gretchen M, Public Relations Manager at Redwood Library & Athenaeum, responded to this review

We are glad that you enjoyed your visit to the Redwood Library & Athenaeum! Yes, Thomas Jefferson visited George Washington in Newport in 1790 after which time he advocated the adoption of the neo-classical style for the nation's federal buildings. Designed by Peter Harrison, the Redwood Library is the first public neo-classical building in the country; it is a National... More 

Level Contributor
76 reviews
42 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 60 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 November 2016

In an amazing Palladian brownstone building, this library has a small but interesting collection of books and artwork. The building itself is really pretty, a nice place to hang out and relax while broadening your understanding of this fascinating city.

Thank michael g
Washington State
Level Contributor
82 reviews
42 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 October 2016

This is basically a very old and quiet library with early American portraits lining the walls up along the ceilings.

Thank Poppadoc
Middle Haddam, Connecticut, United States
Level Contributor
14 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 September 2016 via mobile

Great historical visit! Easy walking distance from the harbor and tourist sights. I highly recommend taking an hour for this unique collection.

Thank Alannah C
Level Contributor
86 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 September 2016

What a great place to discover! If in Newport check out this little known treasure. Beautiful building and history. Take a look if you are in town.

Thank Fred454
Sandwich, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
27 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 August 2016

Admission is $10 if you're not a resident or student, otherwise it is free. My girlfriend and I are students, so we got in for free - and thank goodness because it would not have been worth $20. The building is beautiful and they had a couple of exhibits, but besides that there wasn't much.

Thank Jtries
Ridgeland, Mississippi
Level Contributor
97 reviews
36 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 August 2016

Beautiful museum as well as a Library. The walls just ooze History... One could spend an entire afternoon here...

Thank shchristy

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