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25.  ATHENAEUM THEATRE LILYDALE  by Garry Saunders & Russell Johnson

          In 1888 a general hall in Lilydale was opened to the public as a Mechanics Institute and Free Library, as well
          as for community get-togethers, and functions. Dame Nellie Melba also sang in this hall in in the late 1920's.

          The library was on one side of the entrance and the free reading room was on the other side.

          Aprroximately 1910 silent films were shown in this this hall by a man named George Ford, and talkies
          continued through until it's demise in the late 1950's

          The hall Jay dormant and vandalised until the 1970's, and at this time the council recommended that it
          should be condemned.

          The Athenaeum Theatre Group saw its potential and a lease was taken out by them with the local council.
          The hall was then restored by this group, and volunteers, and finally re-opened in 1975 as a live theatre.

          Many original features are still in this theatre, such as the proscenium and the ceiling, which is a Walter
          Burley Griffin design

          The 200 seats in the Athenaeum are from the old Plaza theatre in Geelong and have been beautifully

          The Athenaeum was officially opened by the then Minister for Arts, the Hon. Race Matthews on Sunday the
          7th of July, 1985.

          The Museum and Office is open Monday to Friday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., but if going in a group it is
          best to make an appointment first. Bookings are made through Russell Johnson or Geoff Page on 735-1777 .

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