The Athenaeum, Princess Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester
The Manchester Athenaeum was founded in 1835 as a society devoted to the arts and learning. At first the members met in the premises of the Royal Manchester Institution but by the following year they had raised enough funds by voluntary subscription for Sir Charles Barry to design a new building. Barry had designed the Royal Manchester Institution (now the City Art Gallery) in the Grecian style but for the Athanaeum he turned to the architecture of the Italian Renaissance. It was built in 1837. It has several inscriptions such as "FOR THE ADVANCEMENT AND DIFFVSION OF KNOWLEDGE". Originally it contained a library, newsroom, lecture hall and coffee room, and later a billiard room and a gymnasium were created. Though at first there were financial problems, the Athenaeum soon became the centre for Manchester's literary life. In 1874 a fire destroyed the interior and, instead of rebuilding to the original roofline, a new lecture hall was provided by adding an extra storey. The society survived until 1938.