Originally called East Lane because it ran eastwards from the corner of Whetstone Town to East Barnet Parish church. The Ordnance Survey map of 1864 shows a barn, a gravel pit and four cottages. The Athenaeum Institute was opened in converted barns in 1881 with a grand concert. It had a hall seating 400 people, a billiard room, library and reading room and for the more active, tennis and croquet lawns were laid out. It was developed by George Waterlow of the printing family. In 1883 musicians and gymnasts still performed there but by 1887 it was in decline and in 1892 the buildings were being used for industrial purposes and by 1906 was a photographic studio. This was probably the site on which Birt Acres worked on developing early cinematographic equipment. It was still a factory in the 1950s having been used by a dry cleaning company. In 1889, only 10 houses stood in Athenaeum Road, which was lined with sports grounds. The name itself is from Late Latin, from Greek word Athēnaion meaning temple of Athene, frequented by poets and teachers.
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