The Athenaeum, locate on the grounds of Western Reserve Academy, is the largest of the original Western Reserve College buildings. It is late Federal in style, designed and built in 1843 by Porter and Rice, who were the college architects at that time. Originally designed to serve as a science building, it was also scheduled to be the first of a second row of brick buildings to the north of the first six in the Brick Row that faces College Street. The second row was never completed.
The original building was three stories, the two lower floors serving as classrooms and the top floor as a museum with a skylight. The walls were patterned after those of the Chapel, with blind arcades and a tower (removed in the 1860s) which resembled the cupola of Middle College and the Chapel Tower.
When its function changed from natural science to dormitory use in 1917, the building was gutted and the original three stories made into four, necessitating a fourth set of windows.
Ohio’s first chapter of Phi Beta Kappa received its charter here in 1847.