Dunedin Athenæum & Mechanics' Institute.
The following Report and Correspondence are published by order of the Committee for information of Members.
Charles Smith,Dunedin, Sept. 15th, 1868. Hon. Sec.
|1st.||The Secretary had addressed a petition to the Provincial Council, with a view to ascertain to what extent, if at all, that Body would aid in increasing the efficiency of the Institution, by grant of a site or otherwise, and upon what conditions.|
|2nd.||The late Mr Peter Williams had made an offer to sell to the Committee the buildings erected by him in Maclaggan street as a Club House, for the sum of L4000. After some discussion in Committee, in order to ensure the fullest investigation of the advantages of either proposal, it was resolved to refer Both subjects to a Sub-committee, consisting of the Vice-President, the Hon. Secretary, and Messrs J ago, Lakeman, Sligo, and Stout; with instructions to inquire into their respective merits, and to obtain all necessary information, and present the same in asuitable form, to be laid before a general meeting of the subscribers at an early date.|
The Sub-Committee had scarcely began their inquiry, when the death of Mr Williams changed the offer of the holding of the Club Building from freehold to leasehold, as, the property being entailed, the executors had no power to sell it; but they state that they are willing to let it for a term of 14 or 21 years, at the rate of L350 per annum.
The extent of Accommodation that the Club Building contains is as follows:—
1 Cellar, 46 × 35, running beneath two shops,&c.
1 Cellar 46 × 16
|1.||Shop with Fire-place,||46 × 16|
|Back Room do.||10 × 10|
|2.||Shop||46 × 15|
Large Kitchen at back, cooking apparatus, &c.
|3.||Shop||22 × 18|
|Parlor to do.|
|Back Room||10 x—|
A Ten-stall Stable, Hay-loft, large Yard, &c., at back
- 1. 1 Room with Fire-place (left), say roughly 30 × 15
- 2. 1 Room with Fire-place (centre), say roughly 28 × 21
- 3. 1 Room with Fire-place (right), say roughly 30 × 15
- 1 Room with Fire-place (right), say roughly 15 × 14
- 1 Room with Fire-place (right), say roughly 18 × 14
- 1 Room with Fire-place (right), say roughly 14 × 8
- 1 Room with Fire-place (right), say roughly 14 × 16
- 3 Room with Fire-place (right), say roughly 10 × 10
- 2 Patent W.C. Cistern and Force-Pump
- 2 Private Staircases, one main do.
- 1 Room with Fire-place, 17 × 12 and 13 others
- 1 Room with Fire-place, 16 × 12 and 12 × 9,15 × 12
- 1 Room with Fire-place, 15 × 13 and 18 × 9, &c.
From the foregoing statement, it will be seen that the first floor alone affords nearly as much accommodation as that given by the present building, while there remains a valuable surplus of room, which could be appropriated for a Public Library, should that scheme be adopted, and Librarian's residence and store rooms, the want of which is increasingly felt. There are besides, three shops, eight upper rooms, hayloft, a ten-stalled stable (now let), and a large extent of cellarage. The whole, under judicious management, should let for a total sum that would materially relieve the pressure of the amount paid as annual rental for the building. But as against these advantages it must be stated that the size of the building would compel an increased expenditure in care-taking generally, and that the situation is in some respects objectionable. Moreover, to adapt the building for the purposes of the Institute, an outlay of from L200 to L350 would be required.
For the purpose of showing more distinctly the different advantages of the proposals of renting or building, approximate statements of the probable receipts and expenditure under each method are here subjoined, which, it is hoped, will place the two proposals more clearly before the Members.page 4
Similar statements, having in view the receipt of a Provincial subsidy, were also prepared; but from the necessarily uncertain nature of the items on each side, the number of subscribers under the new condition, &c., they were not adopted by the sub-committee.
The members of your Sub-Committee then considered the alternative question of building with the funds already in hand; and, with a view to simplify matters, endeavoured to arrive at the minimum space required, for the purposes of the Institute, and relative cost of the space required.
|1st.||Library, say||30 by 20.|
|2nd.||General reading-room,||45 by 25.|
|3rd.||Magazine reading-room,||20 by 15.|
|4th.||Conversation and writing-room.||25 by 17.|
|5th.||Class-rooms—Four: one,||25 by 17; and three of smaller size, which could be thrown into one, by arrangement of partition, if required for any purpose.|
The addition of a Librarian's residence within the building, as also of a lecture hall, would, be contingent on the amount of funds at the disposal of the Committee when the previous needs were satisfied, as either could be rented, if required, within a short distance. In considering this portion of the subject, your Committee consulted Mr John M'Gregor, architect (who had on former occasions kindly assisted the Committee), and inquired the cost of a plain building, containing the above accommodation, on an area of, say, 60ft × 50ft, and were informed by him that in all probability such a building, exclusive of fittings, could be erected for the sum of L2500, provided no special difficulties were presented in the way of foundation, or other cause.
All arrangement of the rooms as to convenience, provision for light, &c., &c., would necessarily depend greatly on the nature of the site, and would form matter for after consideration.
The size of the respective rooms would be as stated above, and departments for the Librarian, or for score rooms, could be arranged in the attic story, if deemed desirable.
Finally, your Committee carefully considered the offers of sites* received in reply to an advertisement issued last January, but were unable to recommend any of them, the prices asked being far beyond what they consider the Committee would be justified in giving for a site, as they find by recent inquiry, that in two cases equally desirable positions can be purchased for from L300 to L400, another is offered as low as £275, and doubtless others exist, if the Committee should determine upon purchasing a site.
On the other hand, your Committee have ascertained by letter to the Provincial Government, that the only site available from the Reserves is a portion of the Octagon Market, if the City Council are agreeable to such an occupation.
By desire of the Committee, the Hon. Secretary then wrote the City Corporation to ascertain their views on the subject, and received, for reply, that for th surrender of the said site the Corporation expected an equivalent—viz., the surrender of the lease of the site now held by the Committee of the Athenæum, the present buildings to be taken at a valuation.
I have the honor to inform you that the Committee has, in connection with other schemes for the enlargement of the Institute's operation, at present under consideration the Resolutions passed by the Provincial Council last Session, and as it is believed that it would materially contribute to the prospect of a speedy settlement of the question if the Committee were able to place before a General Meeting a statement of the Government's willingness to transfer some particular site or sites, (should it be possible to offer a choice) in the event of a Resolution being carried, committing the Institute to the basis of the Resolutions referred to, I am requested to ask that you would be good enough, at your earliest convenience, to furnish the information required.
Chas. Smith,Hon. Sec.
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the date quoted in the margin, (29th July, 1868) and to acquaint you in reply, that if the Corporation of Dunedin are willing to give a site for the Athenæum on the Market Reserve at the Octagon, the Government will offer no objection. I may add that there is no other site available.
Geo. Duncan,Secretary for Land and Works.
Chas Smith, Esq.,Hon. Sec. Athenæum and Mechanics' Institute, Dunedin
I have the honor to inform you that the Committee has, in connection with other schemes for the enlargement of the Institute's operation, at present under consideration the Resolutions passed by the Provincial Council last Session; and as it is believed that it would materially contibute to the prospect of a speedy settlement of the question, if the Committee were able to place before a General Meeting a statement as to some particular site that would be available, I am requested to ask that you would be good enough, at your earliest convenience, to inform me if the City Council would be parties to the transfer of a site on the Octagon, in the event of action being taken on the basis of the Resolutions referred to, a copy of which I enclose.
As it is desirable to submit a statement for consideration of Members as early as possible, you will confer a favor by bringing the subject under notice of the Council on the first favorable opportunity.
Chas. Smith, Hon. Sec.
(Resolutions of Provincial Council enclosed in letter to His Worship the Mayor.)
"1st. That in the opinion of this House it would confer a benefit upon the inhabitants of Dunedin and the Province generally if the collection of Books (now said to be 'upwards of 5,500 vols.') constituting the Library of the 'Dunedin Athenæum and Mechanics' Institute' (together with the future additions as from time to time to hand), were thrown open for the purpose of being read within the Institute itself by the public at large, free of charge.
|(1.)||The grant of a free site upon condition that the Superintendent for the time being be constituted Sole Trustee of the Building to be erected thereon, so as to provide that the said Building be devoted solely to the purpose for which the site shall have been specially granted.|
|(2.)||A suitable Subsidy in aid of the necessarily increased working expenses of the Institute; such subsidy being provided for by Annual Vote.|
"3rd. That in the event of any engagement being entered into by the Government, in accordance with the suggestions as contained in Resolution No. 2, it is recommended that such engagement be made, upon the clearly expressed condition that the Government for the time being retain the right to appoint annually one of its members or other person, as the case may be, who shall have and exercise, on behalf of the Government, all the privileges and powers of a member of Committee of the Institute, the same as if he had been duly elected at the Annual Meeting of Members: and moreover, that they also stipulate for the right to appoint annually a gentleman to act as their Auditor, whose duties and authority as regards all the accounts of the Institute shall be in every respect equal to. and concurrent with, those of any Auditor to be appointed from time to time by the Members of the Institute."
(a true copy.)
Clerk of Council.
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, of date quoted in the margin, (29th July), asking to be informed whether the City Council would be parties to the transfer of a site on the Octagon for an Athenæum.
In reply, I am to state that your letter has been remitted to a Sub-Committee of the Council, and they are disposed to consider your proposal favorably; but before coming to any decision they would wish to learn the views of the Managing Committee of the Athenæum as to terms for such transfer. What equivalent or consideration does the Athenæum propose to give for a transfer of a site on the Octagon?
J. M. Masset,
I am in receipt of your favor of yesterday's date, asking "what equivalent or consideration" the Athenæum proposes to give for a site on the Octagon.page 7
In reply I have to inform you that the equivalent, as set forth in the Resolutions of the Provincial Council forwarded in my previous communication, is that implied in the right of the citizens of Dunedin and the residents of the Province to have free access to the Athenæum Library, at present containing upwards of 5,500 volumes, and being yearly increased at an average rate of from two to three hundred volumes.
It will be seen from the Resolutions that the Provincial Council considered the right above referred to a sufficient equivalent, not only for the transfer of a "free site," but also for a suitable annual subsidy; but should' the City Council be of a different opinion, I presume the question of equivalent will have to be decided as between the Council and the Provincial Government, as, the Government having been applied to to indicate what site would be available in the event of this Institution taking action on the basis of the Provincial Council's Resolutions, have indicated the Octagon site as most desirable, probably thinking the City Council would feel gratified by participating in the satisfaction to be derived from conferring so great a boon upon the inhabitants of the Province.
Chas. Smith, Hon. Sec.
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the date quoted in the margin, (August 14th, 1868) in reply to the Council's letter of 13th August, on the subject of a site for an Athenæum.
In reply, I am instructed by the Reserves Committee of the Council to state that, if the Athenæum Committee agree to surrender the unexpired term of the lease of section 34, block VI, Dunedin, the Council will pay fair valuation for the buildings on the allotment, and will consider favorably the application for a site at the Octagon Reserve.
The Athenæum Committee are reminded that during the last ten years the Institution they represent has benefited largely by having a lease of a Municipal Section in the heart of the City, at a nominal rent.
J. M. Massey,
Referring to my letter herein, of date in margin, (7th Sept.) I have to explain that the offer of the Council to pay fair valuation for the buildings, has reference only to the buildings owned by the Athenæum, and used for the purposes of the Institution, and not to any buildings erected by any Sub-Lessees or other tenants, under the Athenæum.
J. M. Massey,
Referring to your Communications of 7th and 10th instant, I have the honor to inform you that having brought the same under the consideration of the Committee of this Institution, I have to state that it appears to the Committee that the Reserves Committee of the City Council are entirely ignoring or overlooking the purport of my Communications of July 29th and August 14th, to which their attention is respectfully recalled.
I am to add that to surrender the unexpired term of the Lease, &c., being equivalent to the foregoing of £1,500, the Committee are not disposed to accede to it, inasmuch as the Resolutions of the Provincial Council provide that a "free site" should be furnished without any such condition as that sought to be attached thereto by the Reserves Committee of the City Council.
While the Committee of this Institute recognise the fact "that during the last ten "years the Institution they represent has "benefited largely by having a lease of a "Municipal Section in the heart of the City, "at a nominal rent," yet I am to remind the Reserves Committee of the City Council that the citizens of Dunedin, and the inhabitants of the Province in general, have thereby been placed in possession of advantages that no City or Province in the Colony has been enabled to afford its inhabitants.
Chas. Smith,Hon. Sec.
* The offers, as received, are in the hands of the Librarian, and may be perused by Members.—C.S.