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Carnegie earns Blueprint Award for historic revitalization

POSTED September 28, 2012 6:45 p.m.

Turlock’s rebuilt Carnegie Arts Center, a building which seamlessly integrates the historic, burnt-down shell of a Carnegie Library with a sparkling new, multi-million dollar wing, has been recognized with a San Joaquin Valley Blueprint Award for historic revitalization.

“It’s a real affirmation of the city’s effort to build such a beautiful building, and of course it’s gone on to serve us very well,” said Rebecca Abbott, director and curator of the Carnegie Arts Center.

The awards, given out annually by the San Joaquin Valley Policy Council, recognize projects which exhibit principles established in the San Joaquin Valley Blueprint – a 2009 document which calls for the Valley to develop less land, preserve more resources, and enhance distinctive communities.

The Carnegie will receive the Award of Merit in the category, effectively second place. First place in the Historic Revitalization category – the Award of Excellence – went to the Merced Theatre Foundation, for work on Merced Theatre.

Turlock’s Carnegie Arts Center opened as a Carnegie Library in 1916. The building was a public library until 1968, at which time it was converted into an arts center.

The building was placed on the National Historic Register of Historic Places in 1992, but in 2005 was gutted by an arson-set fire.

Following years of debate, the Turlock City Council approved a $5.1 million reconstruction and expansion of the Carnegie Arts Center on April 13, 2010. The building, containing a 18,000 square-foot addition, a public plaza, and a two-story atrium, reopened on Sept. 10, 2011.

The new wing offers a modern take on features from the original Carnegie Library, replicating design elements. Door frames are modern aluminum, while doors are old-fashioned wood.

And the charred brick wall of the original library now acts as a focal point in the new atrium carrying on even that dark moment of the Carnegie’s history.

 “You’ve got, in the new wing, some of the shapes echoed from the old building,” Abbott explained. “…They’ve done a fantastic job of bringing together the old and the new.”

Turlock City Councilman Forrest White and Development Services Director Mike Pitcock will receive the Blueprint award on behalf of the city at the Policy Council’s fall luncheon on Oct. 12 at Tachi Palace in Lemoore.

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