From the fire in 2005 that left it in ruins to the political wrangling that almost sank it, the Carnegie Arts Center has risen like a phoenix from the ashes more than once and is set to begin a new chapter with a grand reopening Sept. 10.
With the opening a little more than a week away workers have been busy installing lights for the Ansel Adams show and putting on all the final touches for the big unveiling, said Carnegie Executive Director and Curator Rebecca Phillips Abbott.
The newly built Carnegie features gallery and retail spaces, a multi-use facility, classrooms, and an open-air plaza, patio and stage.
The design also incorporates some of the salvaged material from the original structure.
The original Carnegie building was opened in 1916 and served for decades as the town’s library. It was one of a thousand structures built by funds donated by steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. In 1982 it was established as the city’s art center and was undergoing some minor renovations in 2005 when it was set ablaze by two burglars trying to cover up their theft of computers and other items from the site.
From the onset there was a vocal rallying cry to rebuild the Carnegie, but the progress toward a new development suffered setbacks when funds started to become scarce and past city leaders questioned whether an arts center could sustain financial support during lean economic times.
“It has certainly been a very challenging task,” Abbott said of the entire process behind the reopening of the Carnegie, “but also a very rewarding one.”
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