Building Developments, 1886
The next phase of construction took place in the mid 1880s. The area between the new hall of 1872 and Collins Street was remodelled and, as with earlier phases of work, much of the existing structure was retained intact and the new work was simply overlaid on the old. The current façade was built during this stage to a design by architects Smith and Johnson. The three-storey addition opened on 7 July, 1886. At this time the building consisted of the main hall, the library and reading room, an upper hall and associated offices.
"The Athenaeum : The Story of its building" by Jennifer Mitchelhill
from the Melbourne Athenaeum : A Journal of the History of a Melbourne Institution, 2009, page 145.
"The new building for the Melbourne Athenæum", drawing by the architects Smith and Johnson
published in the Australasian sketcher, 29 June 1885.
Pictures Collection of the State Library of Victoria.
The official opening was described in the annual report for 1886:
The new Building was formally opened on Wednesday 7th July 1886 by His Excellency Sir H B Loch, KCB who was accompanied by Lady Loch and Suite. Several old patrons and friends of the Institution, and also a large number of subscribers and leading citizens of Melbourne. An address was delivered by the President, Mr Charles Rennie, who gave a sketch of the history of the Institution. He was followed by Professor Elkington who enlarged on some of the Institution. His Excellency then declared the New Building open, and expressed a hope that all old friends, and many new ones, would accord the Institution a very hearty support, now that it had taken possession of its new building and was entering a fresh career of usefulness.
A Musical Entertainment followed, which was given by the members of the Metropolitan Liedertafel, assisted by some ladies, the whole being under the conductorship of Mr Julius Herz.
The President, at the conclusion of his address, informed the audience that Mr Alderman Moubray, one of the Trustees of the Institution, had generously given a donation of one hundred guineas for the purchase of a statue of Minerva to be placed in the niche at the top of the building. The modelling of the statue was entrusted to Mr Kretzschmar, who completed his work a few weeks ago, and placed the statue in the niche.
With a completely renovated façade and the large hall, the Melbourne Athenaeum became a cultural hub in the city. Dances and balls, musical and theatrical performances, exhibitions, flower shows and meetings were held there.
Lectures continued to be given like those by the Reverend Haskett Smith