Lyceum Post Office
The Lyceum is a neo-classical building which was designed by the architect Thomas Harrison from Chester after an open competition with the local Liverpool architect John Foster who was the surveyor to the Corporation of Liverpool. It was built between 1800 and 1802 and boasts a colonnaded front which faces onto Bold Street. The Waterloo Place facade, which housed the entrance to the Library and Newsroom, has four Ionic columns and between them are three relief panels by F.A. Lege.
They represent Navigation (a woman holding dividers to a globe), The Arts (Apollo holding a lyre, sitting by a serpentine incense burner) and Commerce (a person sitting on a cotton bale, holding a money bag with a ship in the background). The building, which housed Europe’s first lending library which was founded in 1757, and then in later years became occupied by the Lyceum Gentleman’s Club and then the city’s first post office, was named after the garden in Athens where Aristotle taught philosophy. It was built as the club’s founders, the members of the Liverpool Library and Philosophical Society, wanted to establish an alternative meeting place to the often rowdy merchants’ coffee houses. The coffee house expanded over time and the Lyceum Gentleman’s Club occupied most of the building for over 150 years. After the club relocated, the Grade II listed building was under threat of demolition during the late 1960s and early 1970s until protests forced the government’s Department of the Environment to purchase it from the owner who was a property developer. After years of neglect, the Post Office bought the building in 1984 with a view to it being Liverpool’s head post office. The plans were later varied to allow parts to be occupied by a building society, retail units and a restaurant. During the late 20th century, the buildings use changed again with the introduction of a bar and cafe. It has been known under various names such as Life Bar, Prohibition, The Bar and Grill and Lyceum Cafe. In March 2004 it was announced that the post office was to close.
Memories of this building also feature in our forthcoming FREE walking tours
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