Historical Significance or Value
The Whangarei Central Library is historically significant as the first purpose-built, stand-alone library building erected in Whangarei. It is associated with the provision of library services by local bodies, which was encouraged by central government through the Libraries Act, 1869 and subsequent legislation. It is also associated with the development of the library service following the review of public libraries in New Zealand carried out by Ralph Munn and John Barr. At the time that of its opening, the library was one of only a few New Zealand libraries with a substantial children's section.
The library building is historically significant for its connection with the Great Depression of the 1930s and the government's efforts to provide employment through public works. It is associated with Dumas expert Frank Reed who gifted a substantial book collection to the library and officially opened the building with a gold key in 1936. The library is linked with the practice among book lovers of gifting private book collections and other material to public libraries, where they can be more widely accessed. It reflects Whangarei's role as the major urban centre in early twentieth-century Northland.
The Whangarei Central Library is architecturally significant, having been granted a gold medal by the New Zealand Institute of Architects in 1938. It is a good example of Stripped Classical design, while also reflecting influences from other styles popular at the time, including Art Deco. The building was co-designed by Horace Massey, who was one of the most prolific and successful New Zealand architects of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.
The building has aesthetic value for its elegant streetscape appearance, although this has been affected to a degree by the contrasting 1980s addition to the rear.
The Whangarei Central Library has high social significance for its long-standing association with the people of Whangarei, lasting nearly 70 years. The fact that the ratepayers of Whangarei approved the raising of the library loan during the Great Depression of the 1930s is testimony to the importance they placed on having up-to-date and well equipped services.
The library building has cultural significance, having been the focus of concerts, poetry readings and other events, which have enriched the cultural life of Whangarei. It has been a well-used library throughout its history.
(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history
The Whangarei Central Library reflects the importance of libraries to the educational and cultural life of provincial towns in New Zealand. It particularly indicates a strong desire for such facilities during the Great Depression. It also reflects changes in attitudes to the education and entertainment of children. It demonstrates Whangarei's early twentieth-century position as Northland's leading settlement.
(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history
The library is associated with Frank Reed, who was an internationally renowned authority on the works of Alexandre Dumas.
It is associated with the development of the New Zealand library service following the Munn-Barr report of 1934, and the Great Depression of the 1930s
(e) The community association with, or public esteem for, the place
The Whangarei Central Library enjoys high community association and public esteem, having been used for over 70 years as a public building of value. Its significance to the community has been recognized by its inclusion as a heritage building on the Proposed Whangarei District Plan (1998).
(f) The potential of the place for public education
As a building with considerable public access, the library has strong potential to provide information on the design and use of library buildings during the 1930s, and the history of Whangarei and the Great Depression.
(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place The Whangarei Central Library has value for its architectural design, which was recognised as meritorious by the New Zealand Institute of Architects. It can be considered a significant example of Stripped Classical design in northern New Zealand.
Massey, Horace Lovell
Massey (1895-1979) was born in Auckland and educated at Auckland Grammar. In 1919 he won a scholarship which allowed him to study for three years at the Architectural Association in London.
He returned to Auckland in 1922 and in the mid-1920s was a partner in the firm Massey, Morgan, Hyland and Phillips who were responsible for much hospital work including the Nurses' Home at Napier Hospital (1925-26) and the Fallen Soldiers' Memorial Hospital in Hastings (1925). Massey himself was an active member of the Auckland Hospital Board for many years.
In the late 1920s Massey was in partnership with G.E. Tole, followed by a period on his own during which he designed Cintra Flats, Auckland (1936). In the 1940s and 1950s he was senior partner of the firm Massey, Beatson, Rix-Trott and Carter who were responsible for a wide variety of work including Pukekohe War Memorial Hall, Coates Memorial Church, Matakohe (1950), Auckland Crematorium (1952), Takapuna Grammar School (1956) and Norwich Union Insurance Society Building, Queen Street (1963).
Massey also designed many fine houses including the Geddes House, Remuera (1936-37), McArthur House, Orakei (1938) and Melvin House, Achilles Point (1942). He was involved with the New Zealand Institute of Architects and devoted time to the publication of professional papers. As an architect he was influential in introducing the ideals of the Modern Movement to Auckland.
Horace Massey was born at Auckland in 1895 and was educated at Auckland Grammar School. He was articled to architect Alec Wiseman and also worked with R.K. Binney and Hoggard, Prouse and Gummer. During the First World War (1914-1918), he was billeted for a while before proceeding to France where he served until the end of the war. During his time in England he took a great interest in local housing. At the end of the war he was one of 3000 entrants in the Daily Mail Ideal Homes Competition. He won the £500 first prize in the northern industrial section and was also awarded one of six New Zealand Expeditionary Forces scholarships to study for three years. He chose to study in London at the Architectural Association School and then returned to New Zealand and became a partner in the firm Massey, Morgan, Hyland & Philips. He left this partnership in the mid 1920s and practiced on his own for a couple of years before forming the partnership Tole & Massey. In the mid 1930s he again practiced on his own, later setting up the firm Horace L. Massey & Partners. In the late 1940s he became a senior partner in the firm Massey, Beatson, Rix-Trott & Carter. Massey retired in the late 1950s and died in 1978 at the age of 83.
Massey was a prolific architect. One of his former partners estimated that he designed one in every five architect-designed houses in Auckland during the 1920s. During this decade he was responsible for a wide variety of designs including: Hawkes Bay Fallen Soldiers Memorial Hospital (1925); rebuilding the Lyric Theatre, Auckland (1926); Whangarei Nurses' Home (1927); Holy Cross Convent, Epsom (1928); and Heards Factory, Parnell (1929). The next two decades his work included: St Michael's Church, Remuera (1933); Cintra Flats, Symonds Street (1935); Whangarei Public Library (with Morgan, 1936), A.L. Caughey home, Remuera (1937); Provincial Centennial Memorial, Petone (1940) and Auckland Crematorium (1943).
Massey received both national and international acclaim for his designs. In 1922 he was awarded the second prize (with Morgan and Armstrong) for the Bengal Legislative Council Chambers in Calcutta. In 1933 he was commended for his entry in the competition for the design of premises for the Royal Institute of Architects in London. He won New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) gold medals in 1933 for St Michael's Church, Remuera (with G.E. Tole); in 1937 for Cintra Flats, Auckland; in 1938 for the Whangarei Public Library (with A.P. Morgan); and in 1940 for the Wellington Provincial Centennial Memorial in Petone. The Petone design was also the winning entry in a competition for the design of the building. At the time Massey was the only architect to ever have won four NZIA gold medals. In 1950 he was awarded the NZIA bronze medal for the design of his own home.
Massey was also well known for his landscape design work. In 1930 he prepared a plan for the reclamation of Hobson Bay but the design was never implemented. In the mid 1930s he designed a large floral carpet, which was exhibited in the Auckland Town Hall. In 1937 he prepared a garden design for G.H. Abel in Remuera complete with tennis court, putting green, formal garden and green house. In the 1940s he redesigned the garden of Mr N.B. Spencer, which won the 1947-48 Tudor Rose Bowl in the Remuera Round Garden Competition. In 1948 he replanned the garden of John Dreadon in Orakei Road. He also wrote several papers on garden design.
Massey, Horace and Morgan, Alfred
Alfred Morgan was born in London in 1893. He arrived in Christchurch at the age of ten. The First World War took him overseas and at the conclusion of his period of service he trained as an architect at the London Architectural Association and became an associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1920. He soon returned to New Zealand. In the early 1920s he was a member of the firm Massey, Morgan, Hyland & Philips. Here, he worked on the design of the Acacia Building in O'Connell Street, Auckland (1923).
By the late 1920s, he had become a partner in the firm Bloomfield, Owen and Morgan. At this time, the firm designed the Titirangi Hotel (1929) and the Grand Hotel in Helensville (1931), as well as entering the design competition for the Dilworth School, for which they received an honourable mention. Bloomfield soon left the practice and by the mid 1930s Morgan was in practice on his own in Whangarei. Morgan joined with his former partner Horace Massey to design his most acclaimed work, the Whangarei Public Library (1936). He also collaborated with Massey in the design of the Whangarei High School hostel, laundry and staff quarters (1940) and the Whangarei Girls' High School hostel. He also designed a number of other buildings in and around Whangarei including examples for the North Auckland Electric Power Board, Dargaville (1938) and Wilson's Portland Cement Company, Warkworth (1938). He similarly designed the Boiler House and Laundry at Mangonui Hospital (1939), J.W. Court store, Whangarei (1943) and the Nurses Home at Whangarei (1951).
Morgan took an active role in the New Zealand Institute of Architects, serving on the Auckland District Branch Committee, and attended their meetings regularly despite living some distance from Auckland. He took a great interest in the cultural life of Whangarei, being the founding president of the Whangarei Operatic and Dramatic Society. He was responsible for the set designs of many productions. He was also involved in the Whangarei Comedy Club and was an executive member of the Whangarei Club and an active member of the Whangarei Waiata Society. He died in March 1953 and was survived by his wife and two sons.
Kemp & Rennie
No biography is currently available for this construction professional
Early Libraries in New Zealand
The establishment of libraries in New Zealand appears to date back to 1842 when a Mechanics' Institute and Library was established at Auckland. Similar institutions followed in other parts of the country and by 1874 there were 161 libraries, mechanics' institutes and other literary and scientific institutes in the colony. Their facilities were available to members who were charged a subscription.
Provision was made for the establishment of public libraries as early as 1869 with the passing of the Public Libraries Act. This Act followed the English model, and provided local bodies with the power to establish and manage libraries and levy a library rate. The Act also stipulated that entry to the library would be free of charge. Ten years after the Act came into force, the first public library was established at Auckland. By 1926, there were well over four hundred public libraries in the country.
Early Library Service at Whangarei
During the 1860s the fledgling settlement of Whangarei developed with the subdivision of several large properties into residential sites. As a harbourside settlement, the town relied on trade linked to the flax and kauri gum industries, as well as farming. One of Whangarei's early settlers was Robert Reyburn, who established a library in a shipping office at the waterfront in the 1860s. From these small beginnings the library expanded and occupied a succession of private and commercial premises in the town. Funds from a musical society were put towards the purchase of more books, but unfortunately it appears that the library stock was later destroyed by fire. In March 1871, the Whangarei Literary Institute was formed by a group of interested locals and Robert Reyburn was appointed librarian.
By the mid 1870 the European population of the township had grown to around 500, and the settlement boasted a post office, school, and several churches and shops. From this time the town developed rapidly and in 1876 the citizens elected the first Whangarei County Council.
On 5 April 1897, responsibility for the literary institute was handed over to the newly formed Whangarei Borough Council. Around the turn of the twentieth century, a substantial bequest from a Mr Gordon Cummings allowed the council to rehouse the library in Whangarei County Council building. It remained there until 1912, when it was relocated to the Borough Council building.
Relying more on farming following the decline of the extractive industries, the population of Whangarei Borough increased heavily from 1429 in 1901 to 7152 in 1936, demonstrating Whangarei's position as the capital and premier settlement of Northland. As early as 1921 the accommodation at the library was fully utilized, and by 1928 the situation had become critical. Membership had doubled since 1921 and there were now nearly 900 library subscribers. The library was forced to refuse some valuable donations of books for lack of space. The council had plans drawn up by a local architect, Mr A. Morgan, for a single-storey extension to the Municipal buildings. However the issue of finance appears to have stalled proceedings.
By 1933 the council had abandoned the plan of a single-storey addition and were considering erecting a two-storey building that would house the library, museum and an art gallery. The council approached the Local Government Loans Board for approval of a loan to finance the project. However, the prevailing economic climate during the Great Depression meant that money was tight and the board cautioned against such extravagance. Council's deliberations on the matter continued.
The New Whangarei Library, 1936
In late 1934 the council secured a site for the new library on Rust Avenue. This was added to the following year with the purchase of an adjoining piece of land. In January 1935 local architect A.P. Morgan and Auckland architect Horace Massey were selected to design the new library by a subcommittee of council consisting of Councillors Morrish, Barclay and Morrison.
The following month the council resolved to approach the Local Government Loans Board for permission to borrow £7730 for the erection of the new library. The ratepayers of Whangarei also approved the loan. In November the council raised the necessary money, and the following month tenders were called for the new building. The lowest of the three tenders received, that of Kemp & Rennie for £7100, was accepted and soon work was underway. In February 1936, Mr Tudehope was appointed clerk of works for the project. Erection of the building was assisted by a subsidy from the Unemployment Board. The Board provided relief to provide jobs for the unemployed during the Depression, and by 1935 this was extended to include unskilled and other workers.
With the building underway, the council and library committee turned their attention to arranging an opening ceremony. The Governor General was invited to open the building, but was unable to attend. The Prime Minister was also approached but other commitments precluded his involvement. The opening ceremony was eventually planned for 12 November 1936 with Mr Frank W. Reed officially opening the building with a gold key.
Frank Reed had a strong connection with the library. He had come to Whangarei from England with his family in 1887. The family settled at Parahaki near Whangarei. The family had little money and survived by digging kauri gum and farming a few acres of land. Reed trained as a chemist and worked in Whangarei until his retirement in 1926. He devoted the rest of his life to the study of the works of Alexandre Dumas. He became an international authority on this subject and was recognised by the French government for his work, receiving their two highest honours for the study of literature. Reed amassed a collection of over 3000 books, including early bibles and other rare books. He gifted 1200 of his books to the Whangarei library and a larger collection went to the Auckland Public Library. Reed also played an important role in the planning and management of the library serving on the Library Committee in the 1930s. The design for the Whangarei library included a room specially designated to house the Reed collection, to be known as the Reed Room. This room was reused for other purposes after the transfer of the Reed collection to the new Auckland Public Library in 1972, where new temperature and humidity controls ensured that the books would remain in good condition. Reed died in 1953. Reed's brother, Alfred (later Sir Alfred), founded the successful publishing firm of A.H. Reed (later A.H. & A.W. Reed), gifting a large collection of books to the Dunedin Public Library where it was housed in a special room, also known as the Reed Room. After the death of Frank Reed, Alfred maintained a supportive connection with the Whangarei Library.
Another person who had an important role to play in the development of the new library was Councillor A. Brainsby, chairman of the Whangarei Library Committee. Brainsby had been Chair of the Library Committee since at least 1928, and sat on the library sub-committee of Council, which dealt directly with the architect. He spoke at the opening ceremony along with the Whangarei Mayor, Mr W. Jones; Member of Parliament for Marsden, Mr J.G. Barclay; Mayor of Auckland, Ernest Davis; Mayor of Dargaville, Francis Jones; Chairman of the Whangarei County Council, J.A.S. Mackay and Auckland's Chief Librarian, John Barr. The guests were entertained by the Municipal Silver Band.
The building itself was hailed by the Northern Advocate as 'one of the most modern and artistic buildings of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.' It featured a lending library, and separate rooms for the children's department, reference collection and newspaper department, which had separate entrance from Cafler Avenue. There was also a students' room, librarians' office, committee room and workshop as well as the Reed Room. The interior was designed to admit the future addition of galleries to extend the shelf space. Its colour scheme employed tones of warm buff, reddish brown and cool grey-green. The exterior was in brick with pressed stone dressings to the windows and doors. The doors themselves featured a carved monogram of the Whangarei Borough Council, as well as decoration symbolic of literature, law, industry and commerce.
The library was planned and built soon after the publication of a report on New Zealand Libraries written by Ralph Munn, director of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and John Barr, chief librarian of the Auckland Public Libraries. In 1932 Barr had received a scholarship to travel to the United States to study library practice. The report that he co-wrote with Munn two years later was a landmark document, which influenced the future direction of library development in this country. Amongst the criticisms included in the report were the charging of membership subscriptions and the inadequacy of services for children. It is significant that the new Whangarei library included a substantial children's room. Barr attended the opening of the library and was reported to have said that 'for its size the Whangarei Library is as good a building as any I saw in the United States'. The library was one of only a few New Zealand libraries with a substantial children's section, and its provision of improved services can be seen as a boost to community morale after many years of economic depression.
In 1938 the excellent design of the library was recognised by the New Zealand Institute of Architects, which awarded the architects a gold medal. However, despite the impressive design, the building soon ran into problems when the bricks were found to be porous and the ventilation inadequate. Remedial work was subsequently carried out to resolve these difficulties.
A sharp increase in membership of the library occurred in 1947, following a decision to remove subscription charges for library members. This was part of a nationwide move toward free membership of public libraries.
The 1950s saw new events held in the library. In 1954 the Whangarei library took part in the nationwide children's book week, which included readings from children's books from America and Japan. In 1956, patrons of the library were enjoying regular lunch-hour concerts in the library. Civic pride in the building was demonstrated with the installation of floodlighting in 1954. The original light fittings were moved to the end of Rust Avenue. Two park benches were donated by T. Hetherington to the Municipal Library and the citizens of Whangarei in 1958. These were installed outside the library on Rust Avenue, where they remain today.
In September 1962, the library building was described as 'unsatisfactory' by the librarian Mr B.K. Keon. Library membership had grown to 8702, nearly nine times the number of subscribers at the time that the building was opened. In 1963, plans were drawn up by architect C.F. Corne for extensions to the rear of the library. The following year an 88 square m. (950 square foot) extension was built, providing a new workroom. Further alterations were made in 1965 with the removal of internal partitions and shifting of the issues desk. In 1968 the revolving doors inside the main entrance of the library were removed. These were felt to be unsafe, inconvenient and expensive to maintain. In February 1971 the library building was lit with coloured lights in celebration of the centenary of the formation of the Whangarei Literary Institute. A students essay competition judged by publisher A.H. Reed was also part of the centennial celebrations.
As early as 1970 plans for major additions to the building had been drawn up but these were set aside due to lack of funds. The erection of a mezzanine gallery down one side of the building in 1974 provided much needed extra shelf space. In 1980 a more extensive mezzanine floor was installed but still more space was required. In the early 1980s new plans were prepared for extensive alterations at the rear of the building. The Auckland firm Civil & Civic NZ Ltd were awarded the contract to build the library extensions in 1982. The new wing would be two stories in height, and provided not only additional library accommodation but also an art gallery run by the Northland Society of Arts. The bold design by architect Peter McNaught was constructed using precast concrete panels, and featured a curved wall on the Cafler Avenue side. In 1989 the upstairs portion of the internal wall at the rear of the main room was removed. By the late 1990s, space was again at a premium and plans were drawn up for a three-stage programme of alterations and additions. Council is still discussing plans for improving the central library facilities.
The library has received much public support over the years and many generous gifts. In recognition of F.W. Reed's contribution to the library a framed photograph and biography hangs inside the building today. Other gifts include a collection of art books given by New Zealand novelist Jane Mander. The Whangarei Central Library is now the key library in a network of three libraries in Whangarei City and it has a close relationship with ten other community libraries in the surrounding area.
The Whangarei Central Library is located to the west of the main centre of Whangarei. Occupying flat ground close to the main trunk railway line, it faces onto Rust Avenue and is bounded by Lovers Lane to the west. The building is part of a larger civic complex, with council offices and a cultural centre housed occupying separate structures to the rear. The 1936 building retains its street presence and original character in spite of 1980s additions to the southwest, assisted by its corner location and the fact that the surrounding area is comparatively open.
The library, as constructed in 1936, is in Stripped Classical architectural style, but reflects influences from other styles popular at that time, including Art Deco. The building is a single-storey concrete structure with a brick exterior, and contains pressed stone surrounds to its windows and doors. Roof trusses are back-braced with angle iron steel, and walls are tied across at subfloor level to withstand earthquakes.
The front (northeastern) façade is symmetrical, and includes a projecting central entry element with decorative carved front doors within a minor recess. These incorporate the Whangarei Borough crest, and a book and torches motif that symbolises learning. Externally, this recess is both surrounded by a decorative frieze incorporating the word 'Library' and surmounted by a stylised square pediment. Each side of the entry element there is a wing, with three steel windows of classical proportions. On either side and above each of these windows is a decorative frieze, terminating at the projecting window sills.
The original steps remain, with the addition of a disabled access ramp on the northern part of the front façade. The ramp is detached from the building except where it joins the steps, so that it does not interfere with the original front wall.
Although the fenestration and its surrounding decorative elements have an ornamental character, the building overall is uncompromising in its 'stripped back' appearance, with a constant parapet line rather than a stepped one. This, however, terminates with a plain band avoiding any classical references normally associated with Stripped Classical style. The pitched roof is hidden below the parapet from street level.
While the overall silhouette of the front of the building could be considered influenced by the Modern Movement or Art Deco architecture, the entry element has a suggestion of Mayan architecture, and its interpretations in buildings of the 1930s. The book and torches motif is repeated in the casting for the subfloor ventilation grilles.
Much of the rear (southwestern) part of the original building is now enclosed by later additions. Several of the original rear window apertures may be seen in what is now the middle of the building, and some of the original 'external' doors remain.
Still evident on the southeastern side of the building is a section of the original building, which is also symmetrical. This has a parapet at the same level of the front façade and originally fronted the Newspaper Room, which had its own entrance. The central entrance is recessed from the face of the building, and has carved timber doors, and a fanlight above. Above this is an isolated frieze element identifying the entrance, again with the word 'Library'. Either side of this is a window, designed to match those on the front façade.
On the northwestern side of the building, the level of the parapet is maintained and two windows have been installed to match the windows on the front façade. Further west, however, the parapet steps down significantly to accommodate an extension constructed in 1964, which infilled an earlier set-back arrangement. The extension was built to accommodate an enlargement of the original workroom in a broadly similar style, and was also erected with brick facing. Its different parapet height and window proportions distinguish it as a separate build, although the contrast is relieved by a judiciously placed fence.
Internally, the main rooms and their finishes (such as the Art Deco fibrous plaster ceilings) remain intact, despite the installation of a partial mezzanine, with modern detailing. This mezzanine was part of the original architects' intentions, though its detailing is more modern than they would have envisaged. The Art Deco lighting has been replaced with fluorescent lighting and the original shelving stacks have been largely replaced, though the mounts and supports for the original bookshelves remain visible in several places. The original laylight ceiling has had the glazing replaced with ceiling panels, but its architectural structure remains apparent.
Registration incorporates the 1936 and 1964 parts of the library building, their fixtures and fittings. It also includes the building's immediate surrounds to the northwest, northeast and southeast. The boundary of the registration extends to Lovers Lane, Rust Avenue and Cafler Avenue (see plan in Appendix 2), incorporating the building's external entrance steps and two park benches immediately to the northeast. The registration excludes the large 1980s addition to the library, attached to the southwestern wall of the earlier structure.
1936 - 1936
Extension built on north-western corner of building.
Internal modifications, including removal of partitions.
Front revolving doors removed.
Internal modifications, comprising addition of mezzanine gallery.
New internal mezzanine floor inserted.
1982 - 1983
Two-storey extension on south-western side of building.
Internal wall at rear of upstairs portion of main room is removed.
Reinforced concrete with brick exterior.
30th August 2004
Report Written By
Martin Jones and Tania Mace
Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
Colgan, Wynne, 'Barr, John 1887-1971', Claudia Orange, (ed.), Vol. 3, 1901-1920, Auckland, 1996, pp.33-34; Treanor, Pamela, 'Reed, Alfred Hamish 1875-1975', Claudia Orange, (ed.), Vol. 3, 1901-1920, Auckland, 1996, pp.419-421
Whangarei District Council
Whangarei District Council
Whangarei Borough and City Council Minutes, April 1933; March 1935; April 1935; January 1937; January 1937; May 1938. Whangarei City Council Minutes 1972, Vol. 4, Whangarei District Council Archives
Whangarei Library Archives
Whangarei Library Archives
R Munn and John Barr, New Zealand Libraries: A Survey of Conditions and Suggestions for their Improvement, Christchurch, 1934
Nancy Pickmere, Whangarei: The Founding Years, Whangarei, 1986
University of Auckland
University of Auckland
Sheppard File M847a and M416h
Francis, K.S. 2006
Temperate Modernity:The Whangarei architecture of Alfred Morgan in the 1930s. C. McCarthy (Ed). "Pleasing homogeneity","dull times", and "animated cocktails": New Zealand Architecture in the 1930s. Wellington; Victoria University Centre for Building Performance Research. http://hdl.handle.net/10652/2178
NZIA Gold Award Winner 1938
A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Northern Region Office
Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.