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The First Baptist Church in America is quite literally the primogenitor of all the subsequent congregations across the nation for this particular denomination of Protestantism. It was constructed in 1775 and like many other buildings in College Hill, it played a significant part in the development of both Colonial America as well as Providence. The church was also the impetus behind Brown University and its relocation from nearby Warren in 1770 (even though the building did not exist, the clerical bureaucracy still had considerable clout). In fact, the university still holds undergraduate commencement ceremonies inside the church's Meeting Hall every Fall. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966 and today its open to the public for services on Sunday as well as more tourist-oriented visits during the week.
Stretching from Main Street in the northern part of College Hill to Alves Way in the neighborhood of Fox Point, this street is also called the 'Mile of History'. Benefit Street has been a catalyst in the history of the city and state. Along the way, visitors will see many Victorian and Colonial homes as well as the campus of Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. The street is dotted with other historical attractions like the Providence Athenaeum, the First Baptist Church in America and the anachronistic John Brown and Nightingale Houses. If you choose to walk yourself, the Providence Preservation Society provides free pamphlets in order to guide you down the street.
The Providence Athenaeum is one of America's oldest member-supported libraries and it has functioned as such since 1753 (though the present structure was built in 1838). According to 19th-century legend, the poet Edgar Allen Poe courted Sarah Whitman in the stacks of this granite Greek Revival building. Some of the collections include documents and books from the original Providence Library, rare editions from American authors like Louisa May Alcott and Herman Melville along with the Robert Burns collection, which has more than 400 items. Today, the Athenaeum hosts events throughout the year with a focus on education for both adults as well as children.
In 1764, three men from Newport established 'The College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations'. For the sake of brevity, it was shortened to Brown University in 1804. It is one of the original eight Ivy League Colleges. Standing strong ever since its inception in 1764, Brown University boasts an excellent educational offering which spans diverse disciplines including engineering, design, ancient studies, archaeology, academics and sciences among others. However, the university bears as much brilliance in its architecture as it does in its academics. Its campus is laden with exceptional examples of late 18th-century architecture residing around the Wriston and Simmons quadrangles, as well as those on the Pembroke College campus, and along Benefit Street. The college remains one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the United States.
Prospect Park was one of writer H.P. Lovecraft's favorite places to wander. When you arrive, it is not hard to see why he enjoyed it so much. The park sits atop Congdon Street in historic College Hill and it offers one of the best views of downtown Providence. Another highlight here is a the statue of Roger Williams, one of the founders of Rhode Island. In fact, his remains lie underneath the statue. Overall, it's a worthwhile stop, especially if you're here when the sun goes down in the West.
Riverwalk & Waterplace Park is pegged against the confluence of the Woonasquatucket and Providence rivers in a little corner of downtown Providence. It's best known for its WaterFire events, which are mini-bonfires that bob atop the water to the beat of world and classical music. The city revitalized the entire area in 1994 and the walk makes an otherwise droll stroll into a pleasant one when walking to College Hill over the Washington Street bridge. The park's bridges are fashioned after those classical ones in Venice, and it's not uncommon to see gondoliers gliding under them.
Swan Point was established in 1846 as one of the first garden cemeteries of its kind in the United States. The cemetery allows visitors in to the mausoleum and Columbarium (a place for funerary urns) and it has interred many important locals. Some of the deceased include Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, Civil War Generals, state governors and the famous horror author H.P. Lovecraft. The massive estate combines historical architecture and interesting sculpture among the flora and fauna near the Seekonk River. It truly is a place of tranquil beauty.