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

Vol. XXXI No. 16, December 1-15, 2021

Heritage Watch

The Decline and Fall of a Heritage Street

Nothing fills us with greater sadness than to present you with this visual record of how a heritage street has declined to ruin. Our Oldest is a 1919 photograph of St Thomas’ Street in Fort St George – you see a long line of buildings on the left, each fronted by a verandah, thereby indicating that the street retained its residential character of buildings even then. True they were all offices, but the structures remained.

St. Thomas’s Street, Madras, 1919, Unidentified Photographer, © Sarmaya Arts Foundation.

Our Old is a sketch of the same street from 1945, done by Ismena Warren for Lt. Col. D.M. Reid’s book, The Story of Fort St George. This as can be seen is a recreation of how the street may have been in 1760, but it is clearly based on how the structures were in 1945. Incidentally, this is the first time we come across a reference to the street as Snob’s Alley.

Our Recent, taken in 2015 shows the buildings on the left all without their porticos. But what is clear is that Last House on Snob’s Alley (seen far left) is still standing, with its portico. The other photo, is a close up of the house itself as seen in 2015. This was the oldest residential structure standing in Fort St George.

Our New, taken two weeks ago shows Last House, reduced to rubble. Also to be noted is the forest of shrubbery that has grown all around, owing to complete lack of maintenance.

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