Sixteen years in the planning, Wanganui’s long-awaited second Library was opened on 28 June 1933, funded in most part by the generous gift of Miss E Alexander in memory of her late father Mr James Alexander.
The Alexander’s Art Deco style reflects the trends of the times and was acclaimed as ‘a building worthy of the fifth City of the Dominion’. Designed by Wanganui architects Clifford Newton Hood and John Duffell, built by Walpole and Patterson, the library was described at the time as being “light and airy… (and) modelled on earthquake resisting lines’.
With electric lighting, gas heating, and rimu fittings and furniture throughout, the library boasted a separate reference room, children’s library (with separate entrance), reading room and ‘subscriber’s lounge’.
After 50 years service to its community, the Alexander was considered too small for Wanganui’s needs, and a new lending library was built adjacent, on the site of Queen’s Park School.
The Alexander’s new role, fittingly, is to showcase the Library’s extensive Heritage collections (of increasing national significance), and to provide heritage information and research services.