Old Court Bed and Breakfast: Providence, Rhode Island
By Shelley Seale
There are some places in the United States that allow you to feel as if you’ve truly stepped back in time. Offering glimpses into bygone eras, these places give us an entirely different experience from our modern everyday lives.
Benefit Street in Providence, Rhode Island is one of those places. Dating from the 1700s, this “Mile of History” has one of the largest concentration of colonial homes in America. From beautifully restored cottages to imposing Federal style homes to huge, opulent mansions — a walk along this street is a treasure.
The historic Old Court Bed & Breakfast is located right in the middle of this bygone glory, at 144 Benefit Street. Stepping through its doors, you'll feel as if you've entered a more gracious era.
Built in 1863 by Alpheus Morse, Old Court was originally a rectory. It sits next to the historic Rhode Island Courthouse, which currently houses the Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission. Italianate in design, the Old Court reflects early Victorian styles including the passion for ornate Italian mantlepieces, plaster mouldings, and twelve foot ceilings. Filled with antique furniture, chandeliers and memorabilia from the nineteenth century, the Old Court Bed and Breakfast is a refreshing reminder of the sophisticated styles of a century past.
Each of the ten rooms has been carefully designed to reflect period tastes; yet still offer every convenience of Twenty-first Century. The charm and decor harken back to simpler times, with antique Victorian beds which have been modified so that they are as comfortable and spacious as modern day beds.
All rooms have private baths, television and telephone; some have wet bars. Each room possesses a personality and a charm all its own. Ranging from the ornateness of Rococo Revival to the intricacy of Eastlake refinement, the Old Court encompasses the best of nineteenth century decors. Some rooms overlook the Capitol and downtown Providence.
Complimentary wi-fi and onsite parking are provided, and there are always a tray of baked goodies, along with tea and coffee selections, available for guests. Breakfast is served every morning in the beautiful dining room on the first floor. You can enjoy croissants with butter, pastry, juice and a full home made breakfast as you sit in the midst of elegant surroundings.
Where It’s At
The location is the heart of Providence. Created in the mid-18th century “for the benefit of all,” the colonial thoroughfare on which Old Court sits shows off an enviable collection of 18th and 19th century wood-frame houses.
Although the street gives the appearance of being a museum mile, it is actually a vital urban neighborhood enhanced by on-going preservation efforts since the 1950s.
Beautifully restored houses, churches and museums overlook the city's historic waterfront. A three-minute walk puts you in the center of downtown Providence or in the middle of the campuses of Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design.
Shelley Seale is an Austin, Texas-based freelance journalist who writes about lifestyle, travel, health, education, business, and nonprofit issues. She has written for National Geographic, USA Today, Andrew Harper Traveler magazine, Yahoo, CNN, the Austin Business Journal, Austin Woman, and many others. Her favorite quote is by Helen Keller: “Life is a daring adventure, or nothing at all.”