Sustaining Enlightenment



America’s first purpose-built library, and the single most important example of American Enlightenment architecture, the Redwood Library & Athenaeum has served as Newport’s intellectual center for nearly three centuries. As an athenaeum, an interdisciplinary ‘think space’ comprising a library, museum, and research center, the Redwood provides a range of cultural experiences and services—lectures, concerts, and exhibitions, in addition to a lending library and research facilities—that make it a local and regional beacon of lifelong learning and civic engagement.


Last year, in celebration of its 275th year, the Redwood embarked on the so-called ‘quiet phase’ of a $5 million endowment campaign to secure its future in perpetuity. For a cultural non-profit with fixed costs of staffing, collections care, and programs, a larger endowment will not only yield the requisite funds to operate sustainably, but also enable the Library to:


  • Maintain the historic structures and grounds guided by certified preservation architects.
  • Adapt—from physical plant to technology—in accord with our current board-approved Strategic Plan.
  • Conserve and enrich our collections of books, manuscripts, art, and objects.
  • Elevate the Redwood’s renowned programming promoting life-long learning in the humanities.


In 2006, the Redwood reached a new milestone when it raised $16.5 million to restore its physical plant and modernize its operational infrastructure, a bricks and mortar effort that is the foundation of the current campaign. Today, as beneficiaries entrusted by previous generations to ensure that the Redwood continues as a catalyst for intellectual pursuit, we must act to safeguard this extraordinary institution.


Having now raised $4.1 million, or over 80% of the $5 million goal, the Board of Directors acknowledges with gratitude those who have already given while inviting you, our shareholders and members, to help secure this national treasure by helping us reach our goal of $5 million and complete the campaign.


The successful completion of the Sustaining Enlightenment campaign will ensure that the Redwood retains its vital role in American intellectual life, fulfilling its educational mission into the twenty-first century and beyond.



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