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History of the Lyceum

A Century of Evolving Use

The Lyceum has long been a melting pot of people and ideas, a center for the community, and an engaging, exciting place. Built by the Catholic Archdiocese in 1895-96 as a wholesome gathering place for young men, the building was named the Lyceum in Aristotle's tradition of a public gathering place for learning. John J. Dwyer, a prominent Hartford architect, drew on ancient Greek and Roman styles to craft a building with a reading room, gymnasium, and a two-story auditorium.

In 1920, the Hartford Box Company purchased the Lyceum and manufactured boxes on the premises. For more than four decades after 1940, the Lyceum is fondly remembered as the Lithuanian-American Citizens Club’s dance hall, community center and, later, restaurant. As demographics of the neighborhood shifted again, the building housed a punk rock dance club, a hot air balloon manufacturer, a roller skating business, the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, an advertising agency, and Hartford Areas Rally Together (HART).

In 2003, the Melville Charitable Trust purchased and renovated the building to serve as a home for conferences, educational programs, discussions, and the exchange of ideas aimed at creating stronger communities. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building remains a vibrant and active destination.