Alumni fight to save old Mount Allison library
Organizer says an online petition to save the library has 1,500 names
Some alumni of Mount Allison University are planning to meet with the university's board of regents on Friday in the hope of saving the old Memorial Library.
The building was built in 1927 to honour students and graduates who died in the First World War, but the facility is now on the chopping block.
The university wants to tear it down in order to build a $30-million centre for the fine and performing arts, which would house programs that are now spread out across the campus.
Meanwhile, the old library has been vacant for the last three years and the stone entrance is covered over with vines.
Bruce Coates will meet with the university's board of regents on Friday to try to stop the demolition and he said many alumni support his fight.
Coates also said he has an issue with the fact the university raised money from alumni by promising to save all or part of the building.
"So they continued to collect funds for that with that premise right up until October of last year when they announced they were going to knock the building down. So they collected the funds, kept the funds and changed the plans," he said.
Coates said the proponents of saving the building have started an online petition that has more than 1,500 signatures and "some very heartfelt comments."
The library was designed by prominent Maritime architect Andrew Cobb.
The red sandstone building was used as a library until the 1970s. It was then revamped to serve as the student centre and became a campus hub, housing the student union, radio station.
Mount Allison is a small liberal arts university in Sackville. There have been several debates in recent years about plans to tear down some of the older buildings on the campus.
The fight to save the memorial library is just the latest of those heritage debates.
David Stewart, the vice-president of administration at Mount Allison University, said the university has tried to find a compromise. Other options for saving all or parts of the building are more expensive, he said.
It has been estimated that saving the building would cost $5 million
So, Stewart said, the plans include saving the building’s main entrance.
"Take it apart stone by stone and then reconstruct it in a location maybe 20 yards, or 15 yards from where it is now as a backdrop to an outdoor theatre," he said.
But that compromise isn’t good enough for Coates. He said the building is too important to be torn down.