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ment, an application to build in  a more central sire was
            resolved by the decision to build the Institute and Shire
             HaJI on the public reserve in the gardens facing Castella
            Street The Athenaeum  designed  by  Philip Treeby  was
             finally  erected  in  1888. A grand  proscenium  arch  was
            built in  1889.

            In  1896 the  building  was  purchased  by  the Shire of
            Lilydale. A Musical and Dramatic Society held monthly
            meetings and additional social and fund  raising evenings
            to benefit local causes. Professional companies from Mel-
            bourne competed with local amateur players.

            The Lilydale Band of Hope gave fortnightly concerts and
            the  Imperial  Quadrille Society organised  baUs  and  so-  International  actors  appeared  at  the  Athenaeum  and  it
            cials.  Silent  films  were shown  in  the pre-war years and   was the first Australian llleatre to screen talking films in
            Dame Nellie Melba performed at the hall  four times be-  1929 with the premiere of "The Jazz Singer". Today the
            tween  1920-30.                                    Institute continues to serve its original purpose as a meet-
                                                               ing place. library. and  venue for special occasions. exhi-
            The Lilydale Athenaeum Theatre Company currently   bitions and performances.
            the  hall.  The exterior has  been  repainted.  The interior
            has been restored. Extra walls have been built to provide   StArnaud
            a large  foyer,  a room  declicared  to  Dame Nellie Melba,
            and a more  intimate theatre.                      In  1867 P.A. Jennings came to St Arnaud for the express
                                                               purpose or promoting the establishment of a mechanics'
            Melbourne Athenaeum                                institute. A commillee was duly elected and the St Arnaud
                                                               Library was established. Its original purpose was to coun-
            The Athenaeum was established in  1839. just five year!>   ter the demoralising  influence of the local  billiard  par-
            after settlement, for the '·diffusion of scientific and other   lour and dancing room.
            useful  knowledge·· among its  members and  the general

            The original  two  storey  rendered  brick  building wa!.
            erected in  1842. It contained a library, reading room. and
            a  hall  where Council  mer.  B)  1857.  two single storey
            wings were added to the facade.

            In  1872, the institute's new hall designed by Alfred Smith.
            opened as  the  Melbourne Athenaeum. The current three
            storey building next to the Town Hall  is a notable fean1re
            in the Collins Street streetscape and was built in the boom
            style architecture in  1886. The upper hall  was converted
            into  an  art gallery  in  1910 and  the  hall  was  converted
            into a theatre in  1921. The 1920s theatre combines nine-
            teenth century configuration witJ1 later style plaster deco-  The institute purchased the former timber court house on
            ration. There is also an Art Deco foyer. The pressed metal   the  police  reserve.  It provided  a  library and  reading
            awning was added  in  1924.                        room.''Popular readings''  were held  fortnigbllv.  The  lo-
                                                               cal State School also used the building for its infant classes

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