One Love, Three Ways

Providence's greatest love story lives on.

Bob Burke in front of the Carrie Tower.

Photography by Mike Braca

The greatest love story never told took place in Providence. Italian count and diplomat Paul Bajnotti of Turin, Italy, created three memorials to pay tribute to his beloved deceased wife, Carrie Mathilde Brown. She was the daughter of Nicholas Brown Jr., for whom Brown University is named. The couple married in 1892, but Carrie died just sixteen years later. The memorials cost around $25 million to build, including the Carrie Brown Bajnotti Memorial Fountain in Burnside Park, the Pancratiast statue in Roger Williams Park and the Carrie Tower, located on the Brown University campus. The foundation of the tower is inscribed with the words, "Love is strong as death." Bajnotti also established a trust, or dowry, that would provide annual funds for a “young woman of high virtue living in Providence” to marry, but that bequest was turned down by the city’s fathers. Pot au Feu proprietor Robert I. Burke hosts an annual Valentine’s Day dinner on February 14 at 7 p.m. to tell the couple’s love story in five parts plus an epilogue in between wine pours, decadent courses and live jazz from Rose Weaver. He hopes to spread the word about their forgotten legacy, get the Carrie Tower repaired so that it may toll again, and reestablish Bajnotti’s bequest by sponsoring a spring wedding for a deserving “Bajnotti Bride,” with the help of local partners. "Bajnotti didn’t want himself to be remembered as much as he wanted Carrie to be remembered,” says Burke. “My goal is that both will be remembered."


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