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02/10/2006 08:00:00

The Athenaeum at Caltech Celebrates Its 75th Anniversary

PASADENA, Calif.-The Athenaeum, the faculty club at the California Institute of Technology, occupies a fascinating, but relatively little-known, corner of the intellectual and social history of Southern California.

An erudite mecca since the 1930s, the Athenaeum is celebrating its 75th anniversary this month.

In 1931, the Athenaeum held its formal opening dinner honoring Albert Einstein. The Einstein Suite (where the renowned physicist stayed while on his visits to campus) remains in use today.

Throughout the Athenaeum's history, it has hosted many of the world's most brilliant scientists and Nobel laureates. On weekdays at noon, an esteemed group of scientists would gather informally at the Athenaeum's round tables to share their latest ideas over lunch-a tradition that continues to this day. The round table conversations have been said to include discussions about a wide variety of topics, from nuclear fusion and string theory to world politics and the World Series. With its charming tales, rich history, and colorful anecdotes, the Athenaeum is at the heart of the campus community.

In its more recent history, the Athenaeum made its Hollywood debut as a filming location for movies and television shows including Beverly Hills Cop, War of the Roses, The Wedding Planner, West Wing, Orange County, Winds of War, and numerous television commercials.

Each year, hundreds of events are hosted at the Athenaeum, from family barbecues and holiday parties to press conferences and Nobel Prize celebrations. Fine, world-class cuisine continues to be served in the Athenaeum's gracious Mediterranean-style dining salons and patios.

The Athenaeum has received many prestigious honors and awards for its service and excellence, including the Platinum Club of America award.

A true intellectual treasure of the Southland, the Athenaeum was designed by noted architect Gordon Kaufmann to be a "center of intellectual and social life" for "lovers of science, literature, and art."

A three-day celebration, complete with historical displays and presentations, will take place on February 24, 25, and 26, giving Athenaeum members and Associates an opportunity to commemorate this crown jewel of Caltech.


Contact: Deborah Williams-Hedges (626) 395-3227

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Written by Deborah Williams-Hedges