Wednesday, September 12, 2012

No more there

It was an address that once boasted of housing the premier photographers of the Madras Presidency. Towards the end of the 19th century, Wiele & Klein had their studio at 11, Mount Road. As their business prospered, they opened branches in the 'Neilgherries' - at Ooty and Coonoor - and Wiele moved over to the hills. Klein stayed on the plains and lived in the floor above their headquarters. The first World War saw Klein being interred - though born in Madras, his German parentage made him a suspect. Apparently, he was not much disturbed by this treatment. He continued to ply his trade after the war, buying out his senior partner and later taking on Michael Peyerl as his junior partner. The Klein & Peyerl name is quite familiar to many even in today's Chennai.

Klein however sold the building at 11, Mount Road to Venkatapathi Naidu, a descendent of Beri Thimmappa, one of Madras' founding trio. Venkatapathi added on to the building and it was a fancy business address, at the corner of Blackers Road and Mount Road, for quite a long while. By the time this picture was taken in 2009, the premises were quite dilapidated. The owners seemed loath to attempt another round of renovation and refurbishment, preferring instead to tear down the structure.

This photo shows the building in poor light. But if you would like to see how handsome it was during its heyday, go ahead and take a look at the photos here! 

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