Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91

Vol. XXIX No. 22, March 1-15, 2020

Heritage Watch

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Last days of Last House on Snob’s Alley

It has survived from the 1640s, making it one of the oldest surviving buildings in the whole of Chennai city. But Last House to the left of Snob’s Alley may be on its last legs if the Archaeological Survey of India has its way.

Listed as being of grade 1 (primary landmark of which no alterations may be permitted) by the High Court of Madras based on the recommendations of the Justice E. Padmanabhan Committee report, Last House gets its name by virtue of being at the end of St. Thomas’s Street, Fort St. George (see Know Your Fort, MM Vol. XXV, December 16, 2015). Around ten years ago it was in relatively good condition with clear land around it on which you could walk and reach the eastern ramparts of the Fort. But consistently denied funds for maintenance (it was allocated Rs. 1 lakh in 2014 or so), it is in a decrepit condition and it is reliably learnt that the ASI has recommended that it be removed from the list of protected structures.

It is one of the classic methods of doing away with historic buildings – deny funds for maintenance thereby ensuring a dilapidated appearance and then suggest removal of protected status on the grounds of structural instability based on no or very cursory assessment.

Our OLD is a sketch of Last House as imagined by Ismaena Warren in 1947 for Col. D.M. Reid’s The Story of Fort George. The New is a photo taken of it in 2015.

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