Arts Centre To Purchase Old Girls High
The former Christchurch Girls High School building in Cranmer Square has been sold to the Arts Centre of Christchurch Trust in a three-way deal between Land Information New Zealand, the Ngai Tahu Property Group and the Trust.
The Hon Matt Robson, Minister for Land Information New Zealand, confirmed today that the Crown had sold the land and buildings to Ngai Tahu which had been offered the first right of refusal on the property. The General Manager of the Ngai Tahu Property Group, Tony Sewell, said that they had on sold it to the Trust.
“This is a good result for all the parties. The Crown has sold a property, which it had no wish to retain, and the Trust is now the owner of the historic building which it has been wanting to freehold for some time”, saysRobson.
Arts Centre Director, Tony Paine, said the Arts Centre was delighted to have secured an important part of Christchurch’s heritage with the help of the Community Trust. “We think it important that this building is upgraded to the same standards we’ve set at the old University Site and that public access is preserved. The Arts Centre believes that when the new City Art Gallery is completed across the road the old Girls High will form an important part of the city’s cultural precinct.” The Arts Centre will be upgrading the building and site over the next few years.
When Christchurch Girls High School moved to its new site in Deans Avenue in 1986 the future of the old building became a contentious issue with a number of community and educational groups wanting to make use of it. Eventually the Government decided that the property should be leased to the Arts Centre of Christchurch Trust on a long-term lease. Since then the Arts Centre has used the building as a community cultural centre known as the Cranmer Centre providing space for arts, cultural, social service and community groups.
The original brick building was designed by William Armson, one of Christchurch’s most important nineteenth century architects and built in 1880. It is categorised by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust as a building which merits permanent preservation because of its very great historical significance and architectural quality.