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Aigantighe Project Marks Major Milestone With First Tile Laid

The seismic strengthening of Aigantighe House Gallery has now entered its next phase, as Mayor Nigel Bowen helped nail the first new tile to the roof.

Workers have been busy under the tent protecting the historic house since the project launched late last year. The roof structures have been assessed, strengthening beams fitted, a new insulation layer laid down, and now the new, lighter roof tiles are being installed.

While the roof tiling is being completed work on the inside on the inside will continue.

Mayor Bowen said that it was great to see the amount of work that had been kept under the wraps.

“While the house has been out of public view there’s been a lot happening over the past few weeks. I think the community will be excited to see the wraps taken off and the house back to its former glory,” Bowen said.

“It’s been a long time since the public has been able to see inside the house, so it will be a great moment when it is open again to the public and they get to step foot inside and experience the Aigantighe collections in the house itself.”

The house was closed following a seismic assessment which found the structure to be 10 per cent of the New Building Standard. Work began on the strengthening project in December 2023, with it expected to be completed by August.

Aigantighe (Scottish Gaelic for ’home of welcome’ and pronounced egg-an-tie) 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.

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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.

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