The Melbourne Athenaeum will be closed on Tuesday November 7 for the Melbourne Cup public holiday.
We will be open regular hours on Monday November 6 and Wednesday November 8.
Thomas Osborne purchased two allotments of land on behalf of the newly formed Mechanics' Institution in 1840, at an auction, for a low £142/10/- per allotment, the upset price being pre-arranged with the auctioneers.
The land fronted Collins Street and extended to Little Collins Street.
When knowledge of the transaction was revealed at a meeting of the Legislative Council in Sydney, the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Charles Gipps, regarded the transaction as similar to a 'celebrated land conspiracy case' to defraud the land fund. At the next meeting, on 2 September 1840, this serious matter was discussed resulting in Gipps (grudgingly?) approving the transaction. Click here to see the transcript from the Sydney Herald report.
Gipps considered doubling the upset price for future sales, to prevent a similar situation.
With the land secure, the new, yet still small, group of interested citizens of Melbourne set about raising money to erect a building. One of the allotments, half of the land, was sold at auction at a generous profit and, together with donations from groups such as the Debating Society and the Masonic Lodge, it funded a two-storey rendered brick building, which graced the town to the delight of its culturally-starved citizens.