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War Memorial Library Building

War Memorial Building

The War Memorial Library is one of the four buildings that form the Lower Hutt Civic Centre. The others are the St James Church, the Town Hall and the Horticultural Hall.

J.W. Andrews the mayor of Lower Hutt from 1933 to 1947 initiated plans for a modern civic centre. He recognized that the existing facilities were woefully inadequate. His successor Percy Dowse oversaw the implementation.

War Memorial Building Sketch. 1950?

The Library was designed by Ron Muston. He was responsible for the St James Church which opened in 1953 and was directed to design the Library in a style that was compatible with it. Both buildings follow Modern Movement principles.

War Memorial Library under construction. 1954.War Memorial Library under construction. 1955.War Memorial Library north side. 1958.

Construction began in 1952 and the building opened in 1956. Initially estimated to cost 100,000 pounds the actual cost was double. The government contributed a quarter of this through their war memorials programme. The rest of the funding came from the Council and the public. Money was raised through events such as an Easter carnival. The Council produced a booklet, We will remember them, to encourage donations.

War Memorial Library grand opening. 1956.War Memorial Library ground floor. 1962.War Memorial Library children's area. 1989.

Many memorials were constructed in New Zealand immediately after the War however it was unusual for these to take the form of a Library. In Lower Hutt the Council was determined to provide something that was both useful and symbolic.

War Memorial Library foyer entrance. 19??.

War Memorial Murals by Leonard Mitchell

Besides being a significant example of modernist architecture, the Library is also noteworthy for three large murals inside. These were the work of Wellington artist Leonard Mitchell and depict the sufferings of war and the way of life that that the War was fought to preserve.

'The four freedoms' War Memorial mural by Leonard Mitchell'The four freedoms' War Memorial mural by Leonard Mitchell

Leonard Mitchell's 'Human Endeavour' Mural

Further information

This page was last updated on 13 October 2013