Wodonga’s Athenaeum – A Place for valuables

In January 1873 the Ovens and Murray Advertiser described a public meeting, with an attendance of only thirty people.  The purpose of the meeting was to consider the practicality of re-organising the Wodonga Literary Institute and Free Library, which was at that time in a “thoroughly disorganised state”.  “……… there were a goodly number of valuable books and other property belonging to the Institution but they were not used, and it was a pity to see such valuable works and sketches shut up in a back store getting spoiled”.

The meeting was told that there was a half acre of land temporarily reserved for a literary institute and a Mr Maxwell was holding 152 volumes belonging to the institute.  The honorary treasurer was noted for his absence and questions had been asked about the amounts and dates of grants out of the annual Parliamentary votes to purchase the books made to the Wodonga Institute since its formation.  The newspaper report also told of a pending law suit.

In October 1885 the Wodonga and Towong Sentinel reported that the Wodonga Athenaeum and Free Library committee were seeking a grant of £200 to add to the £200 already paid to purchase Hellerman’s buildings which were described as thoroughly sound and would with some expenditure do admirably.

A week later the same newspaper reported that, at a further meeting, discussion centred on the location of the proposed Athenaeum in Hume Street (now Church Street), next to the Wesleyan Church. This was not considered suitable, with the main street being more favourable.  Arguments for the Hume Street location were that the land could be had for nothing and it was cooler in summer (being near the lagoon).

In October 1886 the Wodonga Athenaeum in Hume Street was officially opened.  It was designed by Gordon and Gordon, architects, and built by Stewart Bros.

It served the purpose until 1915 when the new library in High Street was built.  The Athenaeum building was moved in 1916, on drays drawn by Clydesdale horses, to 153 Lawrence Street and used as a home since.  The building is heritage listed.