Fast Search

You are Here: Home / Sunderland, Fawcett Street, No. 27, The Athenaeum

Tyne and Wear HER(17775): Sunderland, Fawcett Street, No. 27, The Athenaeum - Details

Back to Search Results



Sunderland, Fawcett Street, No. 27, The Athenaeum




Art and Education Venue


Early Modern


Extant Building

The Athenaeum building was constructed on the site of the Athenaeum (1839-1841) which was built for Sunderland’s Literary and Philosophical Society. The building had a museum, library, reading rooms and meeting rooms. The Athenaeum was designed by William Billington of Wakefield and built by Thomas Pratt in a neo-classical Greek Revival style costing over £4500. The building included a portico with Ionic columns and a pediment or elaborate gable. In 1846 the building was acquired by the Sunderland Corporation making Sunderland the first local authority to finance a museum. When the Literary and Philosophical Society ended, the building continued to be used for public meetings and lectures, it was also used as a place of worship for the Wesleyan Reformers and Mormons. In 1873 the structure was used for the Sunderland Liberal Club who decided to rebuild the structure as a commercial premise at the end of the 19th century. The new build included five ground floor commercial properties and two storeys of accommodation. In 2018 Historic England’s Historic Places Investigation team created a report about the Athenaeum as part of the Heritage Action Zone project. The report identifies that several features from the earlier Athenaeum survive in the new build. The report suggests that the original Athenaeum structure may have formed the ground floor basis for the first floor of the new structure and that building material was reused in the redesign. The Athenaeum buildings are now owned by Sunderland City Council.




Historic England, 2018. Athenaeum Buildings, 27 Fawcett Street, Sunderland- Investigation and Research; Tumman, J, Johnson, M, and Lane, A. No date. A walk around Historic Sunderland: the Fawcett and Sunniside Estates.

Back to Search Results