The Old School Arts Centre will celebrate the 130-year anniversary of the Old School building this month and to celebrate, a number of special events are set to take place over Labour weekend.

Highlight of the weekend will be the Old School’s 130th birthday party, taking place on Saturday 26th October. With live music and an optional, but highly encouraged period themed dress code, the evening is set to raise the roof on one of Raglan’s most enduring buildings.

Originally built as a one-room school building in 1883, the Old School has always served as an important centre for learning, activities and art within the local community.

The building operated as a school until 1962, when it was acquired by Waikato District Council’s predecessor, the Raglan County Council. For several years the Old School was used for shearing competitions and beauty competitions, before becoming an office and smoko room for the council depot.

In 1978, the building was considered a possible home for the Raglan Museum, but renovation work was deemed too costly. Raglan County Council contemplated demolishing the building, but a campaign led by Glen Young and Eva Rickard saw the Old School achieve legal protection under the Historic Places Act.

In 1988, management of the building was passed to the Whaingaroa Arts & Works Centre. Volunteers helped restore the building and arts activities flourished.

In 1994, the Raglan Community Arts Council took over the running of the building and the centre was relaunched as the Old School Arts Centre in 2005. Extensive renovation work has been carried out in recent years and in April 2008 the building was registered as a Historic Place-category II by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

Incorporated in the 130-year birthday festivities will be the unveiling of the Clay Tile Mural, a kiln fundraising event organised by the team at the Raglan Community Clay Shed.

Since February 2012, around 600 tiles have been painted or carved by locals and visitors to Raglan. The mural will be revealed in all its glory over Labour weekend.

Also opening on Saturday 26 October is The Matchbox Show, an exhibition of miniature artworks (50 per cent ceramic) housed in matchboxes. The show will run daily at the Old School Gallery from Saturday 26 Oct to Thursday 31 Oct, 10am-2pm.

Happy Birthday to the Old School. Come along and celebrate the birthday festivities.
Saturday 26th October, 7pm at the Old School Arts Centre.
Live music, bring a plate, cash bar and (optional) period themed dress.
All welcome!