Call to restore Last House on Snob’s Alley inside Fort St. George

The building is said to be as old as the Old Port House

Historians and heritage enthusiasts have called for urgent steps to restore the Last House on Snob’s Alley or St. Thomas’s Street, a heritage structure, inside Fort St. George. The building is said to have the same vintage as the Old Port House that dates back to 1690.

The building, according to historian V. Sriram, is located on the street where the affluent lived. “It even survived the bombing in the 1740s, but lack of maintenance and necessary repairs has led to it being reduced to a rubble now. When I visited the house some 10 years ago, I could enter the building, climb upstairs and see the Fort wall. But during my recent visit, I was shocked to see it in such a sorry state,” he said.

Heritage enthusiast Padmapriya Baskaran said that when one talks of heritage structures, especially for a building that is so old, what is needed is preventive maintenance. “There is no point in buildings being declared as protected monuments if repairs are taken up after the structure caves in. Buildings inside the Fort ought to be given better care since they are what that are left of the foundations of our city and its past,” she said.

A former engineer with the Public Works Department said the need of the hour was a comprehensive plan to repair and maintain all the buildings inside the Fort. “The King’s Barracks is also in a poor condition and several portions of the ceiling have fallen. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the Army have had issues over ownership of buildings and due to this, the heritage structures are affected. Many times, financial constraints prevent work from being taken up. The Centre and State government must join hands and create a fund for regular maintenance of these buildings,” he said.

‘Slow process’

Superintending Archaeologist of ASI M. Kalimuthu said that they had inspected the building and that it was in a dilapidated condition already.

“We have provision for restoring the structure and that of King’s Barracks and will take up the work shortly. Restoration of buildings is a slow process and cannot be done in a hurry,” he added.

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