Bath, England, famed since Roman times as a spa, and a key social and cultural center of Georgian England, will have one of its best-known but long-neglected features restored to its 18th-century glory.
The city is a Unesco World Heritage Site, and a member with nine others of 'The Great Spas of Europe.'
The Assembly Rooms were built for gatherings of the 'polite society' that came to enjoy the waters and each other's company in a period where social barriers between newly-wealthy classes and landed gentry and nobility were eroding. The Assembly Rooms provided a space in which that could take place. Among those frequenting the place were Jane Austen, Dickens, Gainsborough, Haydn and more.
But, starting in the 20th century, change came, and the building's interiors were not maintained or were simplified. The National Trust became the owner in 1931, but the local council has run it under a lease that expires this year. With the expiration, the National Trust is planning a full restoration that will cost millions, some of it coming from the Royal Oak Foundation, a U.S. group that was created to support the trust.