PROVIDENCE — The Beatrice hotel, at the corner of Westminster and Exchange streets, is designed to reflect the elegance and love of the arts of its namesake, philanthropist, Rhode Island Monthly editor and community leader Beatrice Temkin, the beloved matriarch of the Paolino family, who died in 2016.
Her children and grandchildren are committed to honoring her legacy through every detail of the hotel, including one unique feature, Bea’s Book of the Month, an amenity for guests inspired by Temkin’s lifelong passion for books.
“My grandmother, Beatrice Temkin, was an avid reader and was known for finishing a novel in one sitting,” said Paolino Properties’ Jennifer Romano. “Inspired by her passion, we created ‘Bea’s Books’ as a nod to Beatrice, while creating a fun way for guests to engage and become a part of our story themselves.”
So far, she says, the feedback has been “heartwarming.”
“Seeing it come to life and continue my grandmother’s passion for books among fellow book lovers near and far has inspired us to continue creative programming that engages our community at home and across the country,” Romano said. “From guests requesting their favorite books while visiting, to travelers commenting on our social media channels, we’ve been inundated with a positive response and look forward to continuing the program for months to come.”
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Romano said that book selections are made in partnership with Symposium Books, a small local shop nearby on Westminster Street that’s an easy place for hotel guests to visit.
Guests can add the month’s book selection as an amenity when making their reservation, and it comes with a gift bag that includes a water bottle and a bookmark in the shape of Temkin’s signature B.
“We try to select books with broad appeal and make selections that my grandmother would have enjoyed,” Romano said. “We’ve also consulted with my cousin Mari Bianco on occasion. She’s got great insight into everything, from what’s popular, to classics we shouldn’t miss.”
Romano said the hotel hopes to make the reading program more interactive in the future.
“We may host a monthly series or one-off events to allow the community to engage in person, but nothing is set in stone yet,” she said, adding that those interested should follow the hotel’s Instagram account (@thebeatricehotel) to keep tabs on future events.
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Temkin’s daughter, Donna Paolino Coia, said Bea’s Book of the Month is a great way to honor her mother’s love of reading.
“My mom was a voracious reader. She always had a book in her hands de ella, “she said.” At the age of around 9 years old, my mom had scarlet fever and was unable to go to school for most of the year. Books of her became her friend of her during that time, and this continued throughout her lifetime of her. I have vivid memories of my mom always reading. It was her relaxing time of her.
Coia said her daughter Mari Bianco, an eighth-grade English teacher in Florida, is likewise an avid reader.
“She reads as much or even more than my mom did,” Coia said. “My mom loved that Mari had the same passion for reading as she did.”
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Coia said that her mother never belonged to a reading group or subscribed to a book of the month club, but books were always a big part of their family life.
“I know she would read Oprah’s picks, and she and I would discuss what we read and would pass books on to each other,” she said. “My mom and her husband enjoyed discussing books. When they’d go on vacation they would pack a small suitcase filled with books.”
The inaugural selection for Bea’s Book of the Month was “Circe,” by Madeline Miller; followed by “The Midnight Library,” by Matt Haig; “It Ends With Us,” by Colleen Hoover; “Dava Shastri’s Last Day,” by debut novelist Kirthana Ramisetti; and the March selection, “The Magnolia Palace,” by Fiona Davis.
Davis said she’s delighted by the news.
“What an honor to have ‘The Magnolia Palace’ chosen as Bea’s book of the month, especially as Providence has everything I could want in a city: a rich sense of history, some madly beautiful mansions, not to mention its great bookshops and a delicious taco joint,” she said. “It’s a place I could definitely settle in, and that’s coming from a die-hard New Yorker.”
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Temkin’s son, Joseph Paolino Jr., the real estate developer and former Providence mayor, says the hotel and its book program are a fitting tribute to his mother.
“My mom’s contributions to the City of Providence as a contributor to Rhode Island Monthly, philanthropist, and friend left a huge impact on this city, and her legacy lives on through The Beatrice Hotel. … She always told me that she wanted me to name a hotel after her, but that it must be ‘the best.’ With the opening of The Beatrice, we believe that we are exceeding her expectations of her. ”
“Reading With Robin” founder Robin Kall hosts author events on Instagram and in-person book events around the state. To learn more, go to robinkall.com.