Dalhousie Institute, Hare Street, Calcutta, 1865

DalhousieInstitute1863

ডালহৌসি ইন্সটিট্যুট, লাল দিঘীর দক্ষিন পার, কলকাতা, c১৮৬৫

The Dalhousie Institute, situated on the south side of Dalhousie Square, was originally constructed as a Monumental Hall to accommodate busts and statues of great men associated with the history of British India, as well as to provide a resort for mental improvement and social intercourse for all classes. The foundation stone of the institute was laid on March 4, 1865 by the then Lieutenant Governor of Bengal, the Hon’ble Cecil Beadon.
As it is revealed in Archiseek, an Irish architectural journal, that Mr. C.Q. Wray, architect, was assigned for designing the Dalhousie Institute, and that the Institute, as we stated at the time, is intended to be built on a site adjoining Government House at the estimated cost of Rs 25,000 . The cost of its construction was met partly by public subscription and partly from funds raised to commemorate the heroic deeds of those who distinguished themselves in the mutiny of 1857.

The large hall is to be used as a concert and public-meeting room, and will accommodate 1,000 persons seated. It is also to be appropriated to the reception of statues and other memorials of distinguished men. On either side of it are lecture-rooms, lavatories, and an extensive library. The design, externally, may be described as a Corinthian prostyle temple, octastylos; with a lower building, Ionic, on each side. The two outer columns on each side in the portico are close together, and the tympanum is filled with sculpture. Three statues take the place of acroteria on the pediment. The great hall has single Corinthian columns with antae projecting from the wall, on each side at intervals, and a vaulted ceiling, panelled, with lunettes above the entablature of the order. A recces at one end will receive an organ.”dalhousieinst-hall A view of the grand interior of the Institute’s Great Hall where people assemble to witness the statues exhibited.

During World War II, the Institute was requisitioned for the use of US troops and, in 1948, it was shifted from Dalhousie Square to its present location where the original marble plaque commemorating the event has now been relocated in the entrance hall of the current premises at 42 Jhowtalla Street. The building was designed by Walter Granville. The Institute was not a social club in its early years – no drinks were served and no ladies were admitted as members till 1887.As published in The Builder, January 24, 1863. Demolished in 1950

DalhousieInstitute-HareStreetxThis photograph of Hare Street from the ‘Walter Hawkins Nightingale (PWD) collection: Album of views of Calcutta, was most probably taken by photographer Samuel Bourne in the late 1870s. Dalhousie Square, named after Lord Dalhousie who was appointed Governor-General in 1847, was the main administrative area of Calcutta. The square also housed the headquarters of the East India Company known as the Writer’s Building, the Currency Office, and the General Post Office. Pictured here is a view from the top of the Telegraph Office, with the Dalhousie Institute situated below. The Dalhousie Square, with a corner of the Dalhousie Tank, and the General Post Office are in view on the right. This is an edited and enlarged version of the original image.

[A revised version replacing Nov. 28, 2013 post]

Taylor and Company’s Emporium, opposite Palmer’s House, Lall Bazar, Calcutta, 1826

টেলর কোম্পানির দোকান ঘর, নিলাম ঘর, লাল বাজার, কলকাতা, ১৮২৬

Before Chowringhee was grown to a grand centre of amusement and entertainment for the European communities, Lall Bazar had been the best attraction for them. Calcutta’s first theatres, hotels and restaurants, coffee house, ball rooms, shops and markets were all clustered around Lal Dighi.  From the junction with Mission Row, there is eastward down the length of the street. The grand house dominating the composition is the house of John Palmer, Palmer was one of the richest merchants of then Calcutta, the so-called Prince of Merchants, but in the end became a pauper because of his habit of charity. Palmer’s house was sold shortly afterwards to the government and converted into a police station, now the police head quarter. Beyond it, on the intersection with Chitpore Road, is the house that served as a court for the Justices of the Peace. Opposite Palmer’s house stand the emporium and auction rooms of Taylor and Company.
This is a coloured aquatinted plate no. 16 from James Baillie Fraser’s ‘Views of Calcutta and its Environs’, painted in 1826.

Auckland Hotel, Old Court House Street, Calcutta, c1840

অকল্যান্ড হোটেল, ওলড কোর্টহাউস স্ট্রিট, কলকাতা, c১৮৪০
Auckland hotel was established in 1840 or 1841 by David Wilson as the Auckland Hotel, named after George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland, then Governor General of India. Prior to opening the hotel, Wilson ran a bakery at the same site. It was established as a rival to Spence’s hotel, which was the first hotel in Calcutta. The hotel was has had many illustrious guests including Mark Twain. This is a hand-coloured print of a view looking north along Old Court House Street towards the Auckland Hotel. The premises of Winser & Co and Lattey Bros are in the foreground.
Photograph was taken by Frederick Fiebig in 1851.

Military Club House across the Dhurrumtollah Tank, Esplanade Row, Calcutta, 1851

clubHouse-Tankধর্মতলা তালাও সংলগ্ন মিলিটারি ক্লাব, এসপ্ল্যানেড রো, কলকাতা, ১৮৫১
This is a view looking across the Dhurrumtollah Tank towards the buildings along Esplanade Row. The Military Club, later United Services Club, and finally the Bengal Club, is the four storied building on the left. When the Bengal Club was first conceived in the winter of 1826-7, it was christened the Calcutta United Service Club, at a meeting held in the Calcutta Town Hall. It was presided over by Lt Col the Hon J. Finch, who was later to become the first President of the Club. The Club was housed in a building in Esplanade West, erected in 1813. Fund raising was through the then popular method of lottery. This large neo-classical building now houses the Geological Survey of India.
A hand-coloured print of the Military Club House, Calcutta, from the Fiebig Collection: Views of Calcutta and Surrounding Districts, taken by Frederick Fiebig in 1851.

Chowringhee Road from No. IX Esplanade Row, 1848

এসপ্ল্যানেড রো থেকে ধর্মতলা (ট্যাঙ্ক) তালাও চত্বরে সাহেবদের আবাস, ১৮৪৮
Chowringhee Road formed part of the main residential area for Europeans in Calcutta. This view was taken from No 11 Esplanade Row and looks across the reservoir, Dhurrumtollah (Dharamtola) Tank. Prominent in the distance is the column of the Monument to Sir David Ochterlony – a strange mix of Egyptian, Turkish and Greek styles, of 152 feet high. It was erected in 1828 by public subscription, in honour of Ochterlony
This coloured lithograph was taken from plate 25 of Sir Charles D’Oyly’s ‘Views of Calcutta and its Environs’.

Chowringhee – The Main European Residential Area, Calcutta, c1833

চৌরঙ্গী রোড – কলকাতার প্রধান সাহেব পাড়া, c১৮৩৩
Chowringhee Road was the principal route through the main European residential area of Calcutta. In the foreground, people tend their animals and relax in groups. These were years of enormous and largely uncoordinated growth in Calcutta, and the characteristic view of the city became one in which scenes of flourishing wealth were juxtaposed with ones of ramshackle poverty.

This lithograph is taken from plate 17 from ‘Views of Calcutta’ an album of paintings by William Wood.

Chowringhee Theatre – Inerior View, Calcutta, c1830

চৌরঙ্গী থিয়েটারের আভ্যন্তরীণ সাজ-সজ্জা, c১৮৩০
The Chowringhee theatre was built in 1813 and was bought by Prinsep’s friend Dwarkanath Tagore in 1835 for Rs 30,000. It burnt down in 1839.The Theatre was also known as the ‘Subscription Theatre’ The image is inscribed, “All the rest rows of benches, Counsillers box and Govr. Genl. box”. Inscribed on the original mount: “Chowringhee Theatre holds about 800 persons in the boxes and 200 in the pit. Last scene of ‘Blind Boy’ set – my own drawing WP”. William Prinsep, a merchant with the Calcutta firm of Palmer & Company, came from a family which served in India for several generations; five of his brothers were also in the country. This view is from the circle looking towards the stage showing the first few rows of seats.
Pen and ink drawing of the interior of the Chowringhee Theatre in Calcutta, by William Prinsep (1794-1874), c. 1830s

Bishop’s Palace – View of Chowringhee from the Verandah, 1828

কলকাতা বিশপের বাসভবনের বারন্দা থেকে চৌরঙ্গির দৃশ্য, ১৮২৮
The Bishop’s Palace was situated at No.5 Russell Street from 1825 until 1849, in which time it housed four successive Bishops of Calcutta. The last of these, Bishop Wilson, built a new cathedral on the south-east corner of the Maidan and relocated the palace to a house opposite the cathedral. Marianne James, the artist of this work and wife of the third Bishop of Calcutta, wrote: ‘Our Palace … is a splendid house of 3 stories high with a delightful verandah to each storey entirely from one end of the house to the other on one side’.
Watercolour with pen and ink  by Marianne Jane James (b. 1805).

Chowringhee Theatre, Theatre Road, Lower Chowringhee, 1833

থিয়েটার রোডের অধুনালুপ্ত রঙ্গালয়, ‘চৌরঙ্গি থিয়েটার’, ১৮৩৩
This image shows the imposing theatre on the corner of Theatre Street and Lower Chowringhee Road. The whole site between Chowringee Road and Elysiam Row (Now Lord Sinha Road) was occupied by the Chowringee Theatre. The adjacent house to the north was known as Ballards’ Place. The expenses of the construction and the cost of the materials for the stage were borne by a number of gentlemen subscribing amongst themselves the shares of Rs. 100 each. It was beautifully crowned with a dome. The Chowringhee Theatre (1813 to 1839) was the principal theatrical venue in the city.  Some affluent British theatre-lovers along with a few Bengali elites founded Chowringhee Theatre. Accordingly, this also came to be known as the ‘Subscription Theatre’ Among the illustrious patrons who donated generously for this Theatre, the names of Mr. Hares Heman Wilson, D.L. Richardson, Dwarakanath Thakur etc. deserve mention. It was inaugurated on 25th November, 1813 and the maiden play held here was a remarkable tragedy named ‘Castle Spectre’. Several dramas were performed here in course of time. The actors in the initial days were amateurs. Later, some renowned professional actors joined this troupe breaking away from the big banners. But, the Theatre was staggering due to acute financial stringency. In 1835, Prince Dwarakanath Thakur purchased it and made some drastic renovations. Unfortunately, in 1839, this Theatre was completely incinerated. After that it was never revamped and play acting was never resumed here. – Interestingly, the female roles at the theatre were played by professional actresses but male roles were taken by amateurs, such as William Princep, whose memoirs describe his theatre work in detail, both as actor and set designer, and give us insights into the running of the building.
This lithograph of painting dated 1833 is taken from plate 22 from ‘Views of Calcutta’ an album of paintings by William Wood.

Asiatic Society on Park Street, Chowringhee, Calcutta, c1833

পার্ক স্ট্রিট, চৌরঙ্গী রোডের মোড়ে এশিয়া সোসাইটির গৃহ , c১৮৩৩
The view shows the Asiatic Society buildings at the junction with Park Street. Founded in 1784, the society acquired this land from the government in 1805 and had constructed these buildings by 1808. Warren Hastings was its first patron and Sir William Jones its first president.
This lithograph derives from plate 15 of the ‘Views of Calcutta’, an album of paintings by William Wood