Saturday, June 6, 2009

Simpson to Nano

There doesn't seem to be any authentic information about how this building came to be called by its present name - Gove Building. The man behind its origins was George Underhill Cuddon, who upon arriving in India in 1891, joined service with Simpson & Co. as an assistant. Quite rapidly, Cuddon grew to become the manager of the business and then on to partner, before becoming the sole proprietor. It was he who set out the plans for this building in 1914 and though he died before it was completed in 1916, his plans were more or less faithfully adhered to. A book about commerce in southern India, published around 1920, describes this building as 'ornate'; in the decades since, it has only appeared to be more so. That book also talks about the building being of 'green and white stone'; most likely that the granite frontage was streaked with green, which has probably been dulled over the years.

At first glance it seems to be a hotch-potch - granite on the ground floor, brick on the first; a square tower with a pyramidal roof at the northern end, but an octagonal (almost circular) one at the southern end. But all of that is deliberate, apparently very much in keeping with Cuddon's vision - which also included 18-foot plate glass windows in front, special door, shutters and sun-blinds imported from England and Italian marble floors.

Also in line with Cuddon's vision, it continued to house one of the best automobile showrooms in the city, that of Simpson's, until 1943, when it changed hands. Thiruvengadasamy Mudaliar acquired it for the showroom of his dealership, VST Motors; through the years, the building has been lovingly and carefully maintained. Even if you are walking in to look at the newest car, you cannot but feel a sense of reverence for the history of this magnificent showroom, which still remains faithful to the vision of George Cuddon!

6 comments:

Jacob said...

Delightful architecture. I like the way you composed this photo!

Hilda said...

Fantastic! It looks like it belongs in Europe, not India.

Shantaram said...

@ Jacob: Thanks! I found this photo later - it is a much more beautiful view!

@ Hilda: Thanks to some very committed upkeep - tragically, we don't stop to look at such places often!

Jacob said...

Hi Shantaram...

I looked up the photo, and you're right, it's a much more beautiful view! Gorgeous building!

lviss said...

GODDON ANYTHING TO DO WITH GODOWN?

Shantaram said...

@ Jacob: Isn't it? And it looks way 'cooler'!

@ lviss: Cuddon, not Goddon!