As we got off the train in Providence, RI, it started to rain, but being the indomitable English tourists we are, we put up our umbrellas and soldiered on regardless and headed for Benefit Street, in the historic part of the city. In the gloom, two buildings stood out as a beacon, tempting us up a hill towards them. The tudor house sits at the bottom of Thomas Street and just across the road was the most beautiful church - a very special one too, as it turned out.
As I puttered about taking photographs, a gentleman came out of one of the houses on the street and greeted me with a friendly "good morning". Hearing my English accent, he stopped and inquired about our visit - what had brought us here, what did we plan to see and so on, introducing himself as the chairman of the Providence Art Club, one of the oldest art clubs in America, whose Club House lay behind the most lovely door I had just photographed.
I've written before about how these chance meetings with complete strangers turn an ordinary day into the most memorable. This was one of those remarkable occasions and a rainy Sunday in Providence, RI, suddenly transformed into something far more interesting.
For the Providence Art Club House is a very special place indeed and our chance meeting with the chairman allowed us a privileged peek behind the scenes, where some considerable renovation was taking place. We were invited through that lovely green door into a beautiful late 18th century house, complete with original furnishings and of course, pretty amazing artwork. Hard to know where to look first!
We loved the silhouettes of members, painted on the walls of one of the club rooms and admired the very special painting hung in the upstairs lounge area, of a gentleman surveying some casts of classical sculptures, which captured our attention immediately.
The annual "Little Picture Show" was currently showing, but before we took a look at that, we were treated to a glimpse of the future for the lucky members of the Art Club, for extensive building works are going on and there is to be a new studio, print room and further club facilities here before long.
My goodness, what vision, what commitment and foresight is here. How fortunate the members of this club are and how I envy them their facilities!
It was quite hard to draw ourselves away from this fascinating place and charming gentleman, but the historic streets of Providence called us and armed with newly learned background to the city and the buildings nearby, we set off again through the rain.
In spite of the weather, we enjoyed walking along an historic street and really enjoyed seeing so many buildings which were, to our untutored eyes, typically "New England" in character.
But Providence, for us, will always be a charming gentleman and his amazing Art Club. Thank you, Dan, for being such a generous ambassador!