Building Developments, 1853
By 1852 a larger hall was needed. The library was expanding and the increasing number of donated museum objects needed to be stored properly.
The committee raised enough money to buy back a small piece of land, at the back of the building, planning to build a large hall on the ground floor and additional wings on either side at the front. Builders tendered for the construction. Work commenced on laying foundations for a new hall. Owing to a lack of finances, the project couldn't go ahead. However, it was decided that the additions to the front should proceed, as these could be leased to offset the cost of the building renovations.
Mortgage document written on parchment held in the Melbourne Athenaeum Archives
By 1853 the organisation was doing well; there were over 700 members; the library had over 5,000 volumes; the museum was promoted while there were plans to find a more suitable room to display the specimens.
The hall upstairs at this time was well-used as a meeting place and cultural centre. This is where meetings of the Philosophical Institute took place to discuss inland exploration - the eventual outcome of these discussions was the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition. Rowdy political meetings were held in this room. Lectures and classes were held on a range of topics, some of which were organised by the committee; concerts, given by the music students, were popular.
The Liedertafael and the Philharmonic Society gave concerts. Mr George Allan's singing classes were very well attended, by both men and women.
The advertisement for George Allan's singing class was kindly forwarded by Jim Lowden.
George Allan began Allan's Music company, now in Bourke Street, Melbourne.