Napier City Council and the Art Deco Trust are collaborating on a significant restoration initiative that aims to rejuvenate and appropriately repurpose the Category 1 heritage building known as the Memorial Square Community Rooms, Napier, (formerly known as the “Women’s Rest”), into a vibrant community facility.
Designed in 1924 by architect James Augustus “Louis” Hay in the Prairie Style and heavily influenced by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the building served as a sanctuary for Napier’s women, mothers, and children. The facility was conceived as a utilitarian war memorial and companion to the city’s Cenotaph, and was formally opened to the public on Anzac Day 1926, at which time the reserve was renamed ‘Memorial Square’.
Alterations were made to accommodate various occupants over the decades, including enclosing the covered portico and several extensions, before the building was closed in 2013 due to seismic concerns. Despite these alterations, the building retains the integrity of Louis Hay’s original Art Deco era design, which the Art Deco Trust aims to reveal and restore.
A feasibility study into the viability of the project has undertaken, which positively supports the viability for the restoration, and future use of the Napier Memorial Square Community Rooms, (formerly known as the “Women’s Rest”), as a community facility.
With a commitment of $1,056,000 from the Napier City Council, we are well underway with this significant project and are now actively seeking community support to raise the balance of $2,806,505 required for completion.
Major funding applications have been submitted, in total for $951,000, from the Lotteries Environment and Heritage, and Community Facilities funding streams. The outstanding balance required we hope to raise from our community fundraising efforts.
Once restored, the Napier Memorial Square Community Rooms, (formerly known as the “Women’s Rest”), will be operated as a versatile community facility, managed by the Art Deco Trust. The facility will provide a central Napier community hub; as such a community facility that is currently lacking in the central city, for visitors to Napier and providing much needed space to support various community groups. In producing the Feasibility Study to support the viability of this project, many community organisations have expressed their desire to utilise the spaces for their activities and events. The facility will feature a permanent exhibition highlighting its historical importance of the Memorial Square Community Rooms, Napier, (formerly known as the “Women’s Rest”), to the community, as a War Memorial and an integral part of Napier’s 1931 earthquake recovery narrative.
The Art Deco Trust-led project team is leading the fundraising for this significant project, aimed at preserving this cherished piece of Napier’s art deco era heritage for the wider community.
For more details about the restoration project please contact:
The Women’s Rest, Memorial Square, Napier c.1928
The (former) Women’s Rest, 2022