Carnegie Visual Arts Center

Boeing Presents Funding for Doors at the Carnegie

By • Jan 18th, 2003 • Category: News

By Ken Retherford DAILY Weekend Editor

The metal-frame doors on Decatur’s historic Carnegie building look more like the entrance to a convenience store than a blossoming arts museum. But that will change after the Boeing Co. presented the Decatur Arts Council today with $20,000 of a $40,000 grant to help transform the old library into the Carnegie Visual Arts Center. Construction workers will remove double glass doors and restore or replace the wooden doors with this money.

“We’re finally going to get rid of these 7-Eleven doors,” said council President Brooke Hill, referring to the type of doorways in convenience stores. Mike Bunney, Decatur Boeing general manager, made the presentation. Boeing manufactures the Delta IV rocket booster common core here.

Boeing’s local Contributions Committee presented the library project grant to corporate headquarters for consideration, said Lucy Slater, Boeing’s Alabama manager of community and education affairs.

Construction crews will start restoration Monday, Ms. Hill said. “The crews will work first on the windows. There’s not much demolition that has to be done,” she said.

The original wood doors were stored in the library’s basement, she said. “Nancy Yates, the former librarian, told us the doors were there. They were on a dirt floor and one was destroyed by termites, but the other might be usable,” Ms. Hill said. The Decatur City Council pledged $930,000 toward getting the restoration work started. The arts council will repay the city from donations.

The city owns the building, but 95 percent of the money is coming from the community, said Ms. Mitchell. Much of the money has been raised, she said.

Daikin is the largest corporate contributor at $60,000, plus a Japanese painting valued at $25,000. Boeing is the second largest at $40,000.

One individual contributed $150,000, and other businesses, industries, individuals, government and foundations have helped. The council is also seeking grants.

Baggette Construction Inc. of Decatur has the $652,000 contract for updating and restoring the library building at 207 Church St. N.E Architects are Roger Cartwright and Chris Faulkner of Sherlock, Smith and Adams of Birmingham.

Railroad industrialist Andrew Carnegie’s dream was to build libraries such as this across America. He paid for the Decatur Carnegie Library construction in 1905.

It was Decatur’s only library until 1973, when Wheeler Basin Regional Library opened. First Baptist Church later leased the building.

In addition to local art on display, the center will have traveling exhibits and partnerships with work on loan from the Huntsville Museum of Art and others. The building also will be available for receptions and business events.

Community and corporate donations are being sought. One way to help is to order a packet of eight art cards by sending a check for $12 to Decatur Arts Guild, P.O. Box 662, Decatur, AL 35602, or call 355-8443.

Residents can send a tax-exempt donation or request a donor brochure describing the renovation by contacting the Decatur Arts Council, Attention Carnegie Visual Arts Center, P.O. Box 173, Decatur, AL 35602.

For more information, call Ms. Mitchell and other volunteers at 341-0562 or 584-0278.

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