137-year-old Kipling House set to get its original look back

Updated: Aug 23, 2019, 08:41 IST | Arita Sarkar

mid-day walks you through almost-restored 137-year-old Rudyard Kipling bungalow on JJ School of Art premises

137-year-old Kipling House set to get its original look back
Structural repairs of the Kipling House located on the premises of JJ School of Art and College of Architecture have been completed. Pic/Ashish Raje

Work on restoring the 137-year-old Kipling House is near-completion and will be a sight for sore eyes in the next six months. Even as the bungalow is all set to get its original look back, three years after restoration work on it was started, mid-day gives you a quick dekko at the spanking interiors.

Since February 2016, the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, a state government department, has been restoring the bungalow. After completing the structural repair work, they ran out of funds. A fresh estimate of Rs 3.5 crore is being prepared for the remaining work and it would be submitted to the secretary of culture of Maharashtra next week. Once approved, the remaining work is expected to take four to six months.

So far, conservation work worth Rs 4.5 crore focused on strengthening the building's foundation using the splicing method (changing only the damaged parts) and the balconies
So far, conservation work worth Rs 4.5 crore focused on strengthening the building's foundation using the splicing method (changing only the damaged parts) and the balconies

The bungalow has four rooms, two balconies/porches on the first floor and two large rooms as well as a caretaker unit on the ground floor. Experts believe that the PWD might have constructed the toilets at the time when the dean of JJ College of Art and Architecture lived in the bungalow until the early 2000s. Dr Tejas Garge, director of the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, said that only a toilet on the ground floor was part of the original structure.

Also Read: Now, a Jungle Book VR show at Rudyard Kipling's bungalow in South Mumbai

"The toilets on the first floor were the main cause of damage to the structure. The wooden beams had rotted due to leakages in the toilets. The toilets were not present on the upper floor during the British era. As the two toilets were not part of the original structure, they were removed to ensure the same problem doesn't recur," he said. He added that in the new estimate, which is being prepared for the remaining work, they would propose constructing a toilet block at the entrance.

So far, conservation work worth Rs 4.5 crore focused on strengthening the building's foundation using the splicing method (changing only the damaged parts) and the balconies

"A toilet on the ground floor is still functional and it will be kept open for officials only. We will construct a toilet block near the entrance so that it does not affect the bungalow's landscape and people get access to toilets as well," said Garge. He added that once the bungalow is opened up for the public, visitors and tourists could also use the toilets on the JJ college premises as well.

So far, conservation work worth Rs 4.5 crore focused on strengthening the building's foundation using the splicing method (changing only the damaged parts) and the balconies. "The building's periphery is exposed to a lot of environmental wear and tear. As there was no maintenance of the structure, it was in a bad shape. Both the balconies had to be completely redone," said a member of the team working on it. Landscaping of the area surrounding the bungalow will include a small amphitheatre with two to three steps to serve as a seating area.

"A small platform will be constructed to serve as a stage. Functions involving approximately 200 people can be organised in the amphitheatre. Work will also include rejuvenation of the fountains," added Garge. He said though the plan was yet to be finalised, the bungalow would have two display galleries while the remaining area could either be lecture rooms or be used for functions. "It is being decided at a higher level between secretaries of culture and education," he said.

Also Read: Mumbai: JJ School of Art celebrates 150th birth anniversary of Rudyard Kipling

Rs 3.5cr
Amount needed for the remaining restoration work

Rs 4.5cr
Amount spent for the building's structural restoration

2016
Year when repairs to bungalow started

Home to many JJ College deans

Kipling House was built in 1882, more than a decade after Rudyard Kipling, born in 1865, moved to England with his sister. The original house in which he was born was demolished and Kipling House came up next to it. Kipling's father, John Lockwood, who was a professor at J J and served as the first dean, resided in the house along with his wife Alice. Until the early 2000s, the bungalow served as the residence of several JJ College deans.

Also Read: Some interesting facts about Rudyard Kipling, his Mumbai connection and 'The Jungle Book'

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