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Athenaeum of Philadelphia
The Athenaeum.jpg
The Athenaeum of Philadelphia in 2013
Location 219 S. 6th St.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Architect John Notman
Public transit access Bus transport SEPTA.svg SEPTA bus: 9, 21, 42
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Built 1845
Architectural style Italianate
NRHP reference No. 72001144
Significant dates
Added to NRHP February 1, 1972
Designated NHL December 8, 1976
Staircase in the Athenaeum

The Athenaeum of Philadelphia, located at 219 S. 6th Street between St. James Place and Locust Street in the Society Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is a special collections library and museum founded in 1814 to collect materials "connected with the history and antiquities of America, and the useful arts, and generally to disseminate useful knowledge" for public benefit. The Athenaeum's collections include architecture and interior design history, particularly for the period 1800 to 1945. The institution focuses on the history of American architecture and building technology, and houses architectural archives of 180,000 drawings, over 350,000 photographs, and manuscript holdings of about 1,000 American architects.

Since 1950 the Athenaeum has sponsored the annual Athenaeum Literary Award for works of fiction and non-fiction.

Historic building

The building was designed in 1845 by architect John Notman in the Italianate style, and was one of the first buildings in the city to be built of brownstone, although it was originally planned to be faced in marble – brownstone was used because it was cheaper. Notman's design was influenced by the work of the English architect Charles Barry.

The building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976, as one of the nation's first examples of a building with a palazzo-style facade, and for its historic importance as an educational institution. Today, it is operated as a museum furnished with American fine and decorative arts from the first half of the nineteenth century.

On the right of the athenaeum is the house of Richardson Dilworth, the Mayor of Philadelphia from 1956 to 1962.

Athenaeum Literary Award

The Athenaeum Literary Award is a literary award presented by Athenaeum of Philadelphia since 1950. It is awarded to authors who are "bona fide residents of Philadelphia or Pennsylvania living within a radius of 30 miles of City Hall". Eligible works are of general fiction or non-fiction; technical, scientific, and juvenile books are not included. The award was established in 1950 by Charles Wharton Stork (1881–1971), who was a board member of the Athenaeum from 1919 until 1968.


Source: Athenaeum Literary Award previous winners (1949–present)

  • 1990
    • Matthews Masayuki Hamabata, Crested Kimono
    • Paul Halpern, Time Journeys
    • Ora Mendels, A Taste for Treason
  • 1991
    • Art Carey, The United States of Incompetence
    • Elizabeth Johns, American Genre Painting
    • Roger Lane, William Dorsey's Philadelphia and Ours
  • 1992
    • Arthur Power Dudden, The America Pacific
  • 1993
    • Seymour I. Toll, A Judge Uncommon
    • Susan Q. Stranahan, Susquehanna, River of Dreams
  • 1994
    • Paul Fussell, The Anti-Egotist
    • Steve Lopez, Third and Indiana
    • Barry Schwartz, The Costs of Living
  • 1995
    • Thomas Childers, Wings of Morning
    • Witold Rybczynski, City Life
    • Susan Stewart, The Forest
  • 1996
    • Peter Conn, Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Biography
    • Diane McKinney-Whetstone, Tumbling
  • 1997
    • A.C. Elias, Jr., Memoirs of Laetitia Pilkington
    • Kathleen A. Foster and Kenneth Finkel, Captain Watson's Travels in America
    • David P. Silverman, Ancient Egypt
    • Mary Walton, Car
  • 1998
    • James J. O'Donnell, Avatars of the Word
    • Leonard Warren, Joseph Leidy: The Last Man Who Knew Everything
  • 1999
    • J. Welles Henderson & Rodney P. Carlisle, Jack Tar: A Sailor's Life, 1750–1910
    • Witold Rybczynski, A Clearing In The Distance
    • Jonathan Weiner, Time, Love, Memory
  • 2000
    • Susan Sidlauskas, Body, Place, and Self in Nineteenth-Century Painting
    • Patricia Tyson Stroud, The Emperor of Nature; Charles-Lucien Bonaparte and His World
    • George E. Thomas, William L. Price; Arts and Crafts to Modern Design
    • Ben Yagoda, About Town; The New Yorker and the World It Made
  • 2001
    • No award.
  • 2002
    • Jane Golden, Robin Rice & Monica Yant Kinney, Philadelphia Murals and the Stories They Tell
    • Charlene Mires, Independence Hall in American Memory
  • 2003
    • Jack Repcheck, The Man Who Found Time
  • 2004
    • Roger W. Moss, Historic Sacred Places of Philadelphia
  • 2005
    • Kermit Roosevelt, In the Shadow of the Law
  • 2006
    • David Traxel, Crusader Nation: The United States in Peace and the Great War, 1898–1920
  • 2007
    • Jon Clinch, Finn: A Novel
  • 2008
    • Walter A. McDougall, Throes of Democracy: The American Civil War Era, 1829–1877
  • 2009
    • Richard Beeman, Plain, Honest Men: The Making of The American Constitution
  • 2010
    • Robin Black, If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This: Stories
    • Stephen Fried, Appetite For America: How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire that Civilized the West
  • 2011
    • No award.
  • 2012
    • Liz Moore, Heft: A Novel
    • Steven Ujifusa, A Man and His Ship: America’s Greatest Naval Architect and His Quest to Build the S. S. United States
    • Robert McCracken Peck and Patricia Tyson Stroud, A Glorious Enterprise: The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia and the Making of American Science
  • 2013
    • Adrian Raine, The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime
    • George H. Marcus and William Whitaker, The Houses of Louis Kahn
  • 2014
    • Jessica Choppin Roney, Governed By A Spirit of Opposition
  • 2015
    • David Grazian, American Zoo: A Sociological Safari
    • Barbara Miller Lane, Houses for a New World: Builders and Buyers in American Suburbs
  • 2016
    • Gino Segre and Bettina Hoerlin, The Pope of Physics
    • Judith E. Stein, Eye of the Sixties
  • 2017
    • Erica Armstrong Dunbar, "Never Caught: the Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave Ona Judge"
    • Carol Eaton Soltis, "The Art of the Peales in the Philadelphia Museum of Art"
  • 2018
    • Madeline Miller, Circe: a novel
    • Patrick Spero, Frontier Rebels: the Fight for Independence in the American West, 1765-1776
  • 2019
    • Edward Posnett, Strange Harvests
    • Witold Rybczynski, Charleston Fancy
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