Athenaeum, York Street. (c) lookingatbuildings.
"One of the worst pubs in Manchester... in one of the best buildings" is how many will remember Athenaeum now its doors have closed. Others may recall its time as a haunt for football 'lads,' while those who remember it from the start may recall its heyday in the '90s when it was very much on the city centre circuit. Along with the likes of Rothwells, All Bar One and Reform, Athenaeum was, for a short time in the '90s, a place to be seen. Sadly, it ended in 2010 as a cheap and not-even-cheerful sub-Wetherspoons "great value pub" type place which attracted few customers, and even then these were of the down-and-out and scally variety.
Athenaeum, York Street. (c) Rick II at flickr.
This imposing red sandstone dome-topped corner building has such a fine history though. The Parrs Bank Building was designed by Charles Heathcote in 1902 and is a fine example of Edwardian Baroque with some art nouveau detailing particularly in the wrought ironwork. The interior is spectacularly tiled in green and cream with marble pillars and it would have been one of Manchester's most opulent banking halls. It will hopefully look the part when the pub is finished its conversion into Brown's, an upmarket Mitchell & Butler chain restaurant. In the 1960s, before it became a pub, it may actually have been called Brown's (no connection), also a restaurant.
Athenaeum, York Street. (c) manchesterconfidential.
The Athenaeum has been in the news recently as a fire broke out as it was being refurbished . The video gives you an idea of the grand nature of the building. The upper floors which house offices were unharmed but it appears the transformation of the pub into Brown's restaurant was affected mostly with the fire starting - possibly deliberately - in the basement, and spreading to the lower floor.
Video of fire in former Athenaeum, York Street, 2010. (c) menmedia.