The Carnegie building was opened to the public first as a library in 1916. Since 1982 it has been used as the Carnegie Arts Center where many Turlockers have attended children’s art classes and activities.
The Carnegie Arts Center was undergoing a Turlock City Council approved renovation in 2005 that included an additional constructed tower. The tower was named the Ferrari Tower in honor of a very generous gift by the Ferrari Family.
On November 23, 2005 an arsonists sets a fire nearly destroying the building, just before the fire sprinkler system was to be activated.
For about the last five years the renovation and new expansion plans have been focus of many political battles that included debates on whether the first estimation of $9.3 million was to costly and if scaled down alternatives should be chosen, if the project would serve the general population or just a small group, and if taking on the funding of the new Joe Debely Stadium Renovation project would take away or prevent the Carnegie Renovation that had been on a priority list for years.
The Turlock City Council voted unanimously in April 2010 to approve a bid estimating the construction cost of this project to be $5,109,000.
On May 21, 2010 a groundbreaking ceremony was held to commemorate the beginning of the renovation and expansion of the Carnegie Arts Center.
The old damaged Carnegie building will be renovated while incorporating the original brick walls. The expansion will connect the original building to a brand new building that expands south to the adjacent vacant lot.
The approved plan includes a two-story addition to the Carnegie Arts Center that includes the renovation of the historic building for classrooms (1,800 square feet) and a multi-use room (2,100 s.f.). The new wing design provides an elevator to bring the original building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It also includes a temporary exhibition gallery (3,025 s.f.), a members’ gallery (420 s.f.), a second floor multi-use room (2,650 s.f.), an outdoor terrace (725 s.f.), and sufficient office, restroom, kitchen, lobby, storage and service areas (total of 17,265 sf. Plus terrace and entry plaza). Concept A responded to the needs expressed by community members at public forums for more programming and rental space for a variety of cultural functions.
The Carnegie Arts Center Foundation President Patty O’Donnell joked whether she would live or not to see the Carnegie Renovation project begin but then became quite serious as she honored the memory of many contributors who had passed on before the momentous day. Patty O’Donnell also acknowledged two of the first major gifts toward the Carnegie, the Ferrari and Gemperle Families.
“We lost a lot in the fire and in the years that it has taken us to get here today but we have demonstrated together that Turlock won’t give up its dreams, that we value the arts and the significant place that they hold in our communities and our lives,” stated Patty O’Donnell.
Turlock City Arts Commission Chair Dustin Soiseth agreed that the Carnegie is about the community by saying “It’s buildings like the Carnegie that define communities.”
Former Mayor Curt Andre spoke as well saying “All the conflict defined the determination of this community. Communities aren’t based on just the parks, and just the police numbers they have, and just how many pipes they have in the ground… they’re based on and defined how they take care of each other and how we work as a family.”
“I’d like to thank everybody here today who had a part of doing this. We persevered and perseverance is so important and everyone here worked so hard and it’s so important,” said Councilwoman Mary Jackson. “And it is what former Mayor Andre said, it’s not about the building, it’s about the community and the people that live here.”
Representatives from Congressman Dennis Cardoza (D-CA 18th) and State Senator Jeff Denham’s (R-Merced) offices attended the Carnegie Groundbreaking Ceremony and presented Mayor John Lazar proclamations commemorating the momentous day for the Turlock community and acknowledging their hard work.
With about 100 contributors and supporters celebrating the groundbreaking, City Officials, project leaders, and major contributors turned the first shovels of dirt over representing the beginning of the renovation and expansion project.
The Carnegie Renovation project is expected to be completed by June 2011.