Monday, January 16, 2023

Another LIC building

If this tweet is true (and there is no reason it shouldn't be), there is little change in the Bombay Mutual Building over the past 60 years. The colours are slightly different and it has lost the words identifying it, even though you can spot traces of where they were. The building is a great example of the Art Deco aesthetic of mid-20th century Madras. 

The 'original' occupant of that space, sometime from the 1850s, was the Madras Christian College, which built the Anderson Hall as part of its presence in 'town'. When the college shifted to Tambaram, they seem to have sold, or pledged the Hall to the Travancore & Quilon National Bank in 1937, which at the time was the fourth largest bank in the country. In what should be story for another day, the T&QNB was brought down by a run on the bank, which was allegedly orchestrated by CP Ramaswamy Iyer, the then Diwan of Travancore. For our limited purposes here, this resulted in the Government of Madras auctioning off the Anderson Hall to the Bombay Mutual Insurance Company in 1938. 

After a few years, the BMIC decided it would build a fresh structure here. J.R. Davis, of the architectural firm Prynne, Abbot and Davis, who had designed the facade of the Connemara, as well as the Dare House, provided the design for this building as well. The construction was by Coromandel Engineering and the building was inaugurated by the Governor of Madras in 1955. Within a year, BMIC had been merged into the LIC of India, who are the current owners of this building; hopefully they will preserve it much better than they have done with the Bharat Insurance Building on Mount Road!

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