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“Hidden find in Society Hill across from Washington Square” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Athenaeum of Philadelphia

Athenaeum of Philadelphia
219 S. Sixth St., Philadelphia, PA 19106 (City Center East)
215-925-2688
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Ranked #91 of 556 things to do in Philadelphia
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Owner description: A non-profit library and historic site furnished with fine and decorative arts from the first half of the 19th century. Free exhibitions.
Kutztown, Pennsylvania
Top Contributor
1,681 reviews 1,681 reviews
921 attraction reviews
Reviews in 460 cities Reviews in 460 cities
1,661 helpful votes 1,661 helpful votes
“Hidden find in Society Hill across from Washington Square”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 1, 2013

We were in the city for a few days and discovered this magnficent historic gem, As a child I lived near here and did not know it existed. We had been looking at the old home of Richardson Dilworth, a famous Philadelphian who was mayor and district attorney who lived next door to this building (his home has been closed for 14 years).

This is a members only library which was built in 1847, but allows free entrance into its galleries to see current and ongoing exhibitions. Presently, there is an exhibit on Robert Phillips, a local craftsman, who worked in metal--there are some examples of his work, sketches and drawings. There are also old artifacts and pictures in other areas and an interesting exhibit on Napoleon's brother Joseph,Bonaparte, who built an estate called "Point Breeze" on the Delaware River near Bordentown in the early 1800s.

The interior of the library is a sight to see. There are a number of reading rooms, one in the rear on the second floor has to be one of the most beautiful rooms you will ever see, Very high ceilings, large windows, with stacks of rare books. There are also lovely chandeliers and a beautiful winding staircase in the center of the library.

The library is open weekdays from 9 to 5 PM and the first three Saturdays of the month from 11 to 3 PM. If you have a chance, visit this place to step back into history.

Visited August 2013
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11 reviews from our community

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  • English first
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English first
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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210 reviews 210 reviews
69 attraction reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
963 helpful votes 963 helpful votes
“Step Back”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 22, 2013

Step back in time with a visit to the stately & elegant Athenaeum at the eastern edge of Washington Square. This bibliophile's paradise affords the opportunity to savor the rarefied atmosphere of the vibrant intellectual life of Philadelphia in the 1800s & how it relates to our own times.

Exhibits always are both weighty & provocative, as exemplified by the current one regarding modern interpretations of the Women's Declaration of Independence of 1876, when Susan B. Anthony was prohibited from sitting on the stage, as male speakers celebrated the centennial of the Declaration of Independence. (Why isn't this history taught in schools today?)

On your way to/from this bibliophile's paradise, stroll thru lovely leafy Washington Square with its monument to unknown soldiers of the Revolutionary War, who are buried there & if you visit during the week, don't miss the opportunity to see the exquisite Maxfield Parrish mural, executed in Tiffany glass, in the lobby of the nearly Curtis Publishing Company, as the cordial receptionist at the Athenaeum suggested to me.

p.s. Usually there is a cart of free discarded books & periodicals from the library's vast collection just inside the front door.

Visited April 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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141 reviews 141 reviews
49 attraction reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
“Go!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 15, 2012

It has an incredible library - private but wrth every penny to subscribe. Just lovely to walk through.

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Winston-Salem, NC
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141 reviews 141 reviews
15 attraction reviews
Reviews in 50 cities Reviews in 50 cities
59 helpful votes 59 helpful votes
“Great Exhibits and they are FREE”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 25, 2011

Always a great Philadelphia centered exhibit that is open to the public. Always educational and the building is a wonder to look at as well

Visited August 2011
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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