Just steps away from the Massachusetts State House is an equally historic local landmark — though this one is more of a hidden gem.
The Boston Athenaeum at 10 1/2 Beacon St. is a five floor membership library open to the public for tours + day visits.
Quick history lesson:
The organization has been around since 1807, making it one of the oldest independent libraries in the country. It grew out of a group called the Anthology Society that aimed to add more culture to 19th century Boston.
What to see:
The George Washington Library is one of the Athenaeum’s main attractions, and for good reason. About 45% of the first president’s personal book collection is housed in a replica of his Mount Vernon book-press on the fourth floor.
The fifth floor reading room is another can’t-miss destination. The library’s main reading room is silent, so keep it hush hush when you explore the rows and rows of books. Fun fact: the collection ranges from bestsellers and new releases to more obscure finds + rare books.
We can expect the updated space to be open by mid-November, complete with a spacious new lobby, a cafe for both members + visitors, and even more reading nooks.
For now, this means the first floor is closed to visitors as well as other spaces on a rotating basis.
How to visit without a membership:
- Get a day pass to read + work there for $40.
- Take an art and architecture tour for $5 (free for members).
- Check out the events calendar for upcoming book talks, panels + receptions.
If you do want to splurge on a yearly membership, you’re free to read in any of the library’s spaces and check out up to six books at a time. Talk about a book lovers dream.