OPENING DOORS Campaign

Providence Public Library

OPENING DOORS

Providence Public Library offers one of the most unique and historic event venues in the city. Ornately designed spaces in a variety of sizes offer the ideal setting for corporate meetings and conferences, weddings, holiday parties, and other special occasions.

Founded in 1875, the Providence Public Library has distinctive assets that will greatly assist us in building our future, the most important one being our beautiful, architecturally and historically significant building, built in 1900 and on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Library’s programs and services are focused on three key areas: lifelong learning, economic advancements, and early childhood services. “Opening Doors” adds a fourth key area: sharing our spaces.  Our goals are to:

  • Make our historic, architecturally beautiful spaces available for use by the broader Rhode Island community  
  • Increase the number of people familiar with our valuable institution
  • Promote the value of this building as an economic driver for the city and state  
  • Generate a new revenue stream for the Library
  • Preserve this historically significant building for the future 

With the exception of the Auditorium, the spaces are all in the original Italianate building constructed in 1900. The intrinsic beauty of these historic interiors and the range of sizes are ideally suited for occasions of varying space needs and types.

The Library has chosen as its catering partner the well-known and award-winning firm of Russell Morin Fine Catering, founded in 1911 and known for its ability to provide personal service to all sizes and types of events. 

Russell Morin and his representatives have expressed an extraordinary enthusiasm for our spaces, acknowledging that Providence has no other venue of the size and beauty of this building. This enterprise is managed by Morin’s as the sole source caterer for events at the Library, including scheduling, marketing, sales, event planning and execution. The Library receives room rental fees and other fees as negotiated.

We have made necessary refurbishments to the spaces.  Most of these refurbishments were required for adequate preservation regardless of the event spaces rental.  Some refurbishments, however, were necessary in order to maximize the space’s usefulness for particular types of events, most notably weddings, to bring them to a level that can compete with comparable venues.   

Importantly, we have worked with designers and architects, most notably Robert Miklos of designLAB architects, to create an environment in harmony with the building’s grandeur and beauty; and to ensure that the unique collections of the Library are highlighted throughout the refurbishments, both as a way to create a truly unique venue, as well as to maximize the potential of an event to inform attendees about our valuable stewardship of important collections. In addition to its general collection of over one million items, the Library houses a special collection of rich treasures – consisting of unique and rare books, images, documents, ephemera, and objects. 

This campaign is called “Opening Doors” because that’s literally what is intended – to open the historic, immense oak doors of this grand dame of architectural wonder and beauty, and to expose these unmatched resources to all as well as those who choose to hold or attend events in its refurbished spaces.

Formal Announcement

Campaign Donors, to date

WHAT DO WE SEE WHEN WE OPEN OUR DOORS?

We see over 5,000 square feet of contiguous space that can be configured in a variety of ways for use of all or part of the space, including:

  • Grand Hall, a 1,225 square foot hall featuring an artisan tile floor, gold leaf topped, period columns and 30-foot coffered ceilings.
  • Grand Marble Staircase, a 450 square foot area featuring original oak doors, tile floors, Italianate marble staircase, elaborately scrolled ironwork, and upstairs gallery.
  • Ship Room, a 1,978 square foot meeting room, featuring antique bookcases, 30 foot ceilings and large light-diffusing windows.
  • Rhode Island Room, a 1,274 square foot reference/research room, featuring  the Library’s one-of-a-kind collection that visually displays the history of the state.
  • 1st Floor Mezzanine, a 1,376 square foot skylight area surrounding a double-sided staircase to a lower level, featuring gorgeous 30-foot coffered ceilings and period columns, and grand chandelier.
  • A 300-seat Auditorium with a small stage, Steinway piano, projection screen and sound system.
  • 3rd Floor Meeting Room, an 875 square foot nautical-themed meeting room.
  • Trustees Room, a 440 square foot executive conference room, featuring a marble fireplace, gold leaf terra cotta trim and a 10 to 12-seat oak conference table and leather chairs.
  • Indoor “Garden” Courtyard, a 1,926 square foot space that could provide supplemental Grand Hall seating or serve as a lounge, dancing or musician’s area.
  • Outdoor Garden, tucked just to the right of the Library’s majestic double stairway, affording guests a unique outdoor city garden hideaway.
  • Terrace, overlooking Washington Street, offering an outdoor gathering place at the entry to the classical Renaissance-style building.

As a unique space that will be the only historic and beautifully appointed event venue in downtown Providence able to seat more than 300 guests, this will fit perfectly for Providence and Rhode Island to use to attract tourism and conventioneers to the city. It can also meet any indoor meeting need for mid-sized audiences of 10 to 500 people.

Our market research laid the foundation for the key needs, the selection criteria, appropriate marketing channels, and market pricing. Warm reception by local event planning experts verified the need for appropriate rental space for the following: 

  • Weddings – especially in the fall and winter
  • Corporate and executive meetings, many in conjunction with local conventions.
  • Special events and personal celebrations
  • Public sector meetings – focusing on education, healthcare and public administration organizations
  • Non-profit fundraisers and galas

You may contact any of the following people for additional information or discussion; please email or call the PPL Foundation Office at 401-455-8003 to be directed:

Howard Walker and Robert Taylor, Campaign Trustee Co-chairs

Robert Taylor, Chairman of PPL Foundation and Library Board of Trustees

Dale Thompson, Library Director

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IN THE NEWS

A New Chapter - Providence Journal - February 2012

A New Chapter: Event Venue - Providence Journal - September 2012

Renovation News & Update - April 2013

Opening Our Doors