Boston’s Little Secret.

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Boston Public Library Courtyard
There are design reasons why this courtyard at the Boston Public Library invites one to rest, contemplate, and linger, but simply walk in, and you can feel it.  A special place for a cup of coffee, a sandwich, a chapter…

Bostonians are only half-kidding when they say they want to keep the courtyard a secret.  The Boston Public Library is spectacularly famous, and much is made of its grand stairway guarded by St. Gaudens’ marble lions and the perfectly designed Bates Hall reading room.

Two hours later, seated at one of the tables in Bates Hall in the Boston Public Library, she snapped the rubber band about her note book and for the first time since she had sat down regarded other persons at the table under the green-shaded lights.  Give Me One Summer

If you consult the library’s map, the courtyard appears as only a white rectangle with nothing to recommend it.  Pay no heed.  Enter to find an arcade of mellow marble around green lawn, a bronze woman and infant rising from the spray and splash of a fountain, bistro tables in shady alcoves.  I pick up a sandwich and a brownie in the Map Room Cafe just inside, then seek my spot.

The spray of a fountain turned to diamonds where sunlight caught it. The iridescent necks of pigeons glistened as they dipped and shook their feathers in the silver pool at its base. Benches along the stone walls of the cloister glowed with the color of the frocks of women and girls who sat reading and smoking. Palms rattled fronds in a light breeze.  Give Me One Summer

Discovering special places is a benefit of traveling for research, and I’ll be sharing some of the best I’ve found as we go along.  Meanwhile, if you find yourself at the Boston Public Library, enter the east door and turn right at the grand, Entrance Hall stairway.  At the end of the hall is the Map Room Cafe.  Turn left, and you will enter the courtyard.  The smoking and palms are gone since Emilie’s day, but the rest remains.  Don’t tell anyone.

Here’s a teaser:  Can you name another Emilie Loring book that mentions the Boston Public Library?

5 thoughts on “Boston’s Little Secret.

  1. I just reread “As Long As You Live” with a scene from this library. I first visited this delightful place when I moved to Boston in 1982. I went there to, the library, to find information about Emilie Loring and there was pitifully little to discover – or I was an inept researcher. I remember being totally entranced by one room and unfortunately didn’t know about Boston’s secret spot. This is my first post on here – 62 years after my sister got two hardback books for her 17th birthday, which she zealously kept out of the grubby hands of her little sister. I had to wait at least three years to read them. I’ve read them all many times, starting with the library copies. I’ve owned them all, for decades, in paperback. I even helped my sister collect some hardbacks in the 1970’s.

    I just found your blog this week and it is as thrilling as discovering a new Loring book!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aren’t big sisters great? Mine wasn’t entirely thrilled when I stuck my chewed bubblegum on the back of one of her paperback Emilies.

      I’m glad you have found the blog. We may be similar in that we’ve both read the books so many times that new Emilie Loring information is a real treat. There are more than 200 posts on the blog; they should keep you busy until the book comes out!

      Thanks for writing, Lyndell. I hope to hear more from you.


  2. I love the blog! It took me some time to figure out which post to tell you that in (the tea one was really lovely), but since I too spent many happy hours in this secret courtyard, how could I resist chiming in here? I’m so excited that you are sharing these stories *behind* the book–and sharing some Boston travel secrets as well, though it made me rather home away from home sick. Really enjoying your posts so far–they’re just charming. I’m sure Emilie would approve!


    1. What a nice compliment! Thank you. It’s fun to re-live these experiences in memory and to bring others along through the writing. I must admit, it also tempts me to order plane tickets…


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