Former Carnegie Library's future bleak

The Friends of Carnegie have decided not to continue with their plan to renovate the Category 2 historic listed building in Dannevirke and return it to public use.

Carnegie Centre Dannevirke
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Barbara Ferguson, a Friends committee member, has thanked members and staff of the Tararua District Council who supported the group in its aspiration to save the Carnegie building and turn it into an art and cultural centre for the town. 

The council had previously offered to sell the Carnegie building to the group for $1. 

“Before Covid19 lockdown our group wrote to the council accepting the deal, but it went no further because of the lockdown,” says Barbara. 

“We are full of regret, but with wisdom considering our position through the lockdown period, we decided to withdraw our offer to purchase the building. Our biggest barrier is the four-year time frame imposed to fix the building and to raise $1 million to bring the building up to standard and get the work done.” 

The group acknowledged advice given that funding could be available to assist but they would still need to raise a considerable amount themselves, which they cannot now do. 

Over 700 people signed a petition to the council to save the building and 32 people made individual submissions to the council, becoming members of an Incorporated Society. 

The Carnegie Library building on Allardice Street was built in 1907-1908. It was one of 18 libraries built in New Zealand underwritten by Scottish-American billionaire philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, through his global programme to fund the construction of free libraries.  

The fate of the building will now revert to a decision made by the Tararua District Council in May last year which stated that if there was no proposal from the community to save the building it would be demolished, but the façade would be preserved.