An afternoon in the Annmary Brown Memorial

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What are some buildings you’ve never set foot in at Brown? For some, it might be the Annmary Brown Memorial – that tomb-like, windowless building near Keeney and Health Services, a subject of much Brown folklore and ghost stories. Blog spent an afternoon in the famed memorial, and lived to tell the tale.

The Annmary Brown Memorial, located at 21 Brown Street, was built in 1907 by General Rush Christopher Hawkins as a memorial to his wife. During the Civil War, General Hawkins (1831 – 1920) served as Colonel of the “Hawkins Zouaves,” the 9th New York Volunteer Infantry, and was named Brigadier General in 1865. Hawkins was a well-known book collector, fascinated by early print editions, and a collector of early modern representational paintings.

Annmary Brown (1837 – 1903) was the daughter of Nicholas Brown III and granddaughter of Nicholas Brown II, for whom the university was named after. Brown and Hawkins married in 1860. Annmary was close with her sister, Carrie Brown Bajnotti, who is memorialized by the Carrie Tower on the Quiet Green. After her premature death from pneumonia in 1903, Hawkins decided to build a public memorial in her memory, to house belongings from their life together, Annmary Brown’s letters, as well as his Civil War memorabilia and art and book collections. Hawkins donated the memorial and the collection to the City of Providence in 1907. Brown was buried in the crypt in the rear of the building, and was joined by Hawkins, who died at the age of 89. The university acquired the memorial in 1948, which now houses the programs in Medieval Studies and in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies.

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