It will take approximately $3 million to restore the old Carnegie Library.
Word of this from chairman of the Preservation Task Force and Preservation Trust Sir Henry Fraser, who said he was still working on details of the restoration of the iconic building.
He made the during a recent lecture hosted by the National Trust at the Main Guard, The Garrison.
“It deserves to be saved and many older Barbadians love it,” said Sir Henry, as he recalled going to the Coleridge Street library many years ago.
Sir Henry said the Preservation Task Force was given the mission to raise “millions of dollars” to restore the library, which was built in late 1905 as well as other UNESCO World Heritage site buildings.
“So the present Minister [of Culture] agreed that we would prioritize the Carnegie Library . . . the Carnegie Foundation no longer does anything about bricks and mortar. They say, ‘we give you the building, you look after it’. So attempts to get help from them have not worked,” said Fraser.
“We have costed it and made it a priority project of the Preservation Task Force. So we currently have an estimate for the pure restoration of the building at $1.7 million,” said Sir Henry.
He said the restoration team had done “an amazing job” in coming up with the cost for the pure restoration, while criticizing the amount it was costing the Government to construct the new Barbados Water Authority (BWA) headquarters.
“We are still working on the details, which I assume would come to perhaps another two thirds to three thirds of another million dollars to provide the connection with the West Indies reference section, the bathrooms that we need, the elevator that we need and air condition,” he pointed out.
“I would estimate therefore that this building can be restored and the main body of the National Library can go back there for less than $3 million.
. . . . We know there is a palace building on the top of Pine Hill as the same side as the Pinehill Dairy and we are told that the estimate is somewhere between [$50 million and $60 million]. I cannot believe it. So for just [a fraction] of that we can restore the Carnegie Library,” said Sir Henry.
He did not say how much of the money had been raised so far or how soon restoration work would begin on the old library.
However, Sir Henry said phase two of the restoration process would include the old Supreme Court.
“That is also structurally a magnificent shape,” he said.
Recalling the closure of the library almost eight years ago, Sir Henry said it was caused by mold growing in one of the halls in the corner of the north- east section.
“In Barbados if mold appears inside of a building that is a death threat . . . within weeks of that mold appearing because of a leaking roof that building was evacuated,” he said.