The Boston Athenaeum amazes editors


Madera Longstreet-Lipson, Managing Editor

The Upper School (US) Almy Library houses 14,000 books. Multiply that number by 36 and you have the Boston Athenaeum, home to half a million volumes. Over March break, The Vanguard’s Senior Board took the T to the Athenaeum, a hidden gem at 10 1/2 Beacon Street, where we immersed ourselves in Boston history and architectural grandeur. Once inside the building, we met out tour guide Jim Falzarano, who was dressed in a pink polo and instantly welcomed us with a warm smile.

Our first question was, ‘what exactly is an athenaeum?’ As Jim explained to us, the Atheneum allows members and guests to live in 3D. Sculptures of Adam and Eve, Little Nell from Charles Dickens’ “The Old Curiosity Shop,” and paintings of famous American figures like George Washington or one of the first American female authors, Hannah Adams, come to life in the building. For a few hours on a Saturday, we got to escape from our 2D world swiping on technology and step into the presence of a museum-like oasis created in 1807.

We began with a quick tour of the first floor, which included statues, books, and art. The third floor overlooks the historic Granary Burying Ground: the place of rest of Paul Revere and Sam Adams. It was small moments like these that made the spirit of the Athenaeum present itself. Yes, the books were beautiful and the building’s architecture–columns, circular staircases, arches and alcoves–was luxurious, but these small pockets of peace really stood out to us. We imagined reclining with a book, surrounded by all the knowledge one could ask for as Boston bustled outside.

This was surely a place for introspection and reflection—Jim himself told us that he often took a seat overlooking the cemetery and considered his life.