The seismic strengthening of the Aigantighe House Gallery will start early next month following the acceptance of the tender submission for the main construction project .
Farrell Construction, a Canterbury-based company experienced in working with heritage buildings had its Tender submission accepted by Council to strengthen the 118 year old house. They are planning to get the work underway on December 4, with a target for completion by August 2024.
The house was closed in 2017 following a seismic assessment which found the structure to be 10 per cent of the New Building Standard.
Aigantighe Art Gallery Manager Cara Fitzgerald said she and the team were delighted to have a start date for the House Gallery project.
“It is a significant milestone in the effort to preserve and enhance this historic heritage building,” she said.
“The Aigantighe Heritage House Gallery holds a rich history as the former residence of the Grant family and its subsequent transformation into a public Art Gallery in 1956 .
“The strengthening and restoration project, under the guidance of the appointed contractor, will play a crucial role in bringing the Aigantighe Heritage House Gallery up to modern standards.
“The restoration efforts will not only focus on meeting safety standards but also on preserving and highlighting the building’s unique heritage features.”
The Aigantighe Art Gallery’s Collection is of national significance and this project will make sure the building’s interior systems are up to modern standards so that while on display the artworks will be protected according to museum standards.
“The inclusion of new climate control and fire suppression systems further demonstrates a commitment to ensuring the long-term sustainability and protection of the Aigantighe,” said Cara.
“These modern additions will contribute to maintaining the building’s structural integrity and safeguarding its valuable contents.
“This project reflects our drive to balance preservation with contemporary requirements. It’s an exciting development for both the local community and anyone interested in preserving and celebrating historical and cultural heritage .
“This project not only contributes to the preservation of local history but also enhances the region’s cultural infrastructure by maintaining a public art gallery .”
A significant part of the tender was ensuring that local skills and expertise were an integral part of the project. While Christchurch based, the majority of trades and suppliers being used by the company are local.
Farrell Construction Commercial Manager Adriaan Bester said that the whole team was pleased to get the opportunity to work on one of Timaru’s most high profile buildings.
“We are excited to be working on another project in the Timaru District and getting the opportunity to bring one of the community’s most beloved buildings back to public use,” he said.
“As part of our tender we’re bringing our significant experience in manag ing complex, heritage projects and are committed to bringing as many local trades and suppliers on board as possible.”
Farrell Construction have been the main contractor for a number of notable projects which required structural strengthening and restoration or refurbishment.
These include St Patrick’s Church in Akaroa, the recently opened Endoscopy Unit at Timaru Hospital and Te Puna Wanaka at Ara, Christchurch.
“Through our work on the Timaru Hospital project we have already built-up relationships with local trades and suppliers and will be looking to develop these further through this project,” said Adriaan.
Aigantighe (Scottish Gaelic for ’home of welcome’ and pronounced Aig -an-tighe) was originally built in 1905 (attributed to the architect James S Turnbull) for Alexander Grant (1831-1920) and Helen Grant (1854-1955), who had emigrated from Scotland and farmed Gray’s Hills Station in the Mackenzie Country.
The Grant family lived in the ‘Aigantighe’ for 50 years; Alexander Grant passed away in 1920 at the age of 89, and his wife Helen in 1955 at 101. Their daughter, Jessie Wigley, with the support of her brother, James Grant (who had inherited the house on their mother’s death) gifted the house and its grounds to the people of Timaru in October 1955 to establish the District’s first and only public art gallery, to be known as the Aigantighe Art Gallery.
Timaru born Architect James S. Turnbull is attributed to designing some of Timaru’s most notable buildings including the Coronation Buildings which is now the home of Farmers on Stafford St and the former Chambers Presbyterian Church on Elizabeth St which is now the Saint George’s Coptic Church.