The (Former) Athenaeum, Manchester

The (Former) Athenaeum, Princess Street, by Charles Barry (1795-1860), now an annexe for the City Art Gallery, Manchester, also by Charles Barry. 1836-37. Between them, the two parts of the gallery nicely illustrate a shift in the young Barry's outlook, and in the architectural trend of the day. "Barry, like Cockerell, abandoned Greek prototypes for a more Italianate manner," says James Stevens Curl, pointing out that "the palazzo vogue was favoured for secular architecture: as it was astylar, that is, without columns or pilasters on the exterior) and avoided the unfashionable use of colonnades that had been associated with the Neoclassical styles and especially with the Greek Revival" (87). Compare this club with Barry's Reform Club in London — the two buildings, from the same period, are very similar. Note that the heavy roof on the Manchester one was not Barry's: it was added in 1873, after a fire (see Hartwell 91). Hartwell also makes the interesting suggestion that this, "Manchester's first palazzo, ... can claim to be the inspiration for a style which Manchester was to make her own as the model for commercial warehouses" (91).

Photograph © Stephen Richards, who previously submitted a smaller version of it to the Geograph Project. This photograph can be reused with a copyright attribution under the Creative Commons License. Caption, commentary and formatting by Jacqueline Banerjee. [Click on the image to produce a larger picture.]


Curl, James Stevens. Victorian Architecture. Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1990. Print.

Hartwell, Clare. Manchester. Pevsner Architectural Guides. London: Penguin, 2001. Print.

Last modified 22 May 2015