$3m school project begins
A $3 million development has kicked off at Craighead, with construction of the school's new boarding house beginning yesterday.
With that hefty price tag the project is a massive undertaking. It will increase the boarding capacity from 112 to 140, and principal Lindy Graham is confident those beds will be filled.
"We've got people crying out to fill them now," she said.
It is anticipated the three-storey building will open in July.
At present the girls who were housed in the old building have taken up residence in the gymnasium. Permission to use the gym as a hostel runs out in July, which will put pressure on contractors Timaru Construction to get it finished on time.
The first step was to let Christchurch archaeologist Julia Hughes examine the site, a legal requirement because the former building, Shand House, was built before 1900.
"Two large wells were discovered when excavation started. We didn't expect to find them, and we're not sure what they would have been used for, but it's possible that there was a water feature at the original homestead, or they might have been for the house's own water supply.
"Nothing else has been uncovered so far, but we could still find a number of things - perhaps an old rubbish pit or the remains of the conservatory," Ms Hughes said.
Shand House was vacated in April 2012 after an engineering report indicated earthquake-strengthening work was needed.
Craighead board of proprietors chairwoman Phillipa Guerin said it was a priority to ensure the safety of staff and students, resulting in the demolition and rebuild.
Shand House is not covered by insurance as no specific event caused the damage, leaving the school to foot the entire bill.
"We're in the very early stages of initiating a capital campaign now, and we hope to have raised the money within a couple of years," Mrs Guerin said.
Mrs Guerin and Ms Graham were reluctant to discuss fundraising plans yet.
Dallas Redhead, of Rushton Architects, said the new building would retain certain elements of the old.
Ms Graham said the beginning of construction marked an exciting period ahead.
"The girls will find the new accommodation fabulous."
- © Fairfax NZ News