Home to the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association, the Athenaeum is a perfect example of Greek Revival architecture, with a long and colorful history of occupation.
Located at 201 Prince Street, the building was built in 1851 and served as the Bank of the Old Dominion, which claimed Robert E. Lee as a customer. During the Civil War, the Federal troops commandeered the building, which they used as Commissary Headquarters for the Union Army and later a triage hospital for wounded soldiers. Knowing the Northern troops would occupy the bank, the manager had hidden all the gold from the vault and returned it to the depositors once the war was over.
After the war, the building served as the First Virginia Bank, then a warehouse for pharmaceutical wholesaler Leadbeater and Sons, and in 1925, as a house of worship for the Free Methodist Church of North America. The Northern Virginia Arts Association bought the building in 1964, restored it to its current state, and renamed it the Athenaeum.
Today, the Athenaeum is dedicated to celebrating regional artists while maintaining the historic building as a vital asset to the community. It offers a vibrant space for art exhibitions, dance and music performances, poetry readings, and other literary events. It is open to the public on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday from 12 pm to 4 pm and Saturday from 1 pm to 4 pm. It can also be rented for private events such as weddings, receptions, business meetings, parties, etc.