JSW signs MOU to restore iconic David Sassoon Library

JSW signs MOU to restore iconic David Sassoon Library

Staff ReporterUpdated: Friday, January 28, 2022, 04:42 PM IST
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David Sassoon Library | FPJ photo

The David Sassoon Library and Reading Room has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with JSW Group’s social development arm, JSW Foundation, to restore and conserve the iconic David Sassoon Library at Kala Ghoda in Mumbai.

According to the MOU, JSW Foundation shall extend Technical and Financial support towards the Conservation, Restoration of the iconic library. JSW has joined hands with Hermes, the Kala Ghoda Association, the Consulate General of Israel in Mumbai and others to raise funds for this restoration project. Leading conservation architect Abha Narain Lambah will undertake the restoration which is expected to be completed in 2023.

The David Sassoon Library and Reading Room is a Grade 1 heritage building located in the historic art precinct at Kala Ghoda in South Mumbai. It is one of the oldest surviving libraries in Mumbai And among the first buildings to be built at Kala Ghoda in 1870. It was designed by Gostling and Campbell in buff-coloured trachyte (Malad stone) and limestone which gives the building its distinct character.

The David Sassoon Library and Reading Room is a Grade 1 heritage building located in the historic art precinct at Kala Ghoda in South Mumbai.

The David Sassoon Library and Reading Room is a Grade 1 heritage building located in the historic art precinct at Kala Ghoda in South Mumbai. | FPJ photo

It was designed by Gostling and Campbell in buff-coloured trachyte (Malad stone) and limestone which gives the building its distinct character.

It was designed by Gostling and Campbell in buff-coloured trachyte (Malad stone) and limestone which gives the building its distinct character. | FPJ photo

Hemant Bhalekar, President of the David Sassoon Library and Reading Room Committee, “We have been waiting for this day for a long time. Our entire committee and its members are happy that the library building will be restored to its original glory. We would like to thank all the donors specifically Sangita Jindal and Abha Lambah for taking this initiative to conserve and restore the Library and Reading Room.”

Sangita Jindal, Chairperson of JSW Foundation said, “During the last two decades, the David Sassoon Library has welcomed me and millions of people - especially during the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. This restoration MOU is our way to reciprocate and give this iconic library its due as a primary institution of learning in the heart of Mumbai’s art and heritage precinct. The Library’s proximity to the other educational and cultural institutions like the Elphinstone College, CSMVS Museum and other art galleries make it the fulcrum of Mumbai’s educational and cultural movement.”

Abha Narain Lambah, Founder & Principal Architect at Abha Narain Lambah Associates, said “The David Sassoon Library is among the oldest landmarks in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Victorian & Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai. The conservation plan will comprehensively cover architectural and interior design of the library for restoring its interiors and exteriors.”

Lambah and her growing team has restored nearly all the important heritage landmarks in Mumbai including the Bombay High Court, BMC headquarters, the Asiatic Library and Townhall, Royal Opera House among several others. “The 19th century photos of the Library show the original sloping roof which was replaced with an RCC slab in the mid 20th century. Now the challenge is to demolish the leaky RCC slab and putting back the historic pitched roof profile. Also, the project involves the interior restoration and making the library more user friendly,” Lambah told The FPJ.

The Victorian Neogothic-styled structure was originally built as a museum and library of mechanical models and architectural designs. It was principally used by a group of foreign mechanics working at the mint and government dockyard. The Institute was renamed in 1938 as the David Sassoon Library and Reading Room after the activities of the institute diminished. The Museum and Library was named after Sir David Sassoon, a Baghdadi Jew merchant, who funded the construction of the iconic monument. The David Sassoon Library’s entrance lobby doubles up as an art gallery, and along with its garden is used as a venue for the annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival exhibitions and events.

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