105 years old and still going strong

Standing tall: The E-shaped District Collector’s building in Visakhapatnam is a replica of medieval Gothic architecture.  

Apart from being the Independence Day, August 15 means a lot more to those have a close association with the District Collector’s building in the city. Come Wednesday, the Collectorate will not only celebrate the 72nd Independence Day but also the 105th anniversary of the grand old building.

History says the building was commissioned on August 15, 1913, exactly 34 years before the country achieved independence from the British rule.

“It’s just a coincidence that the building was commissioned on August 15 and it has nothing to do with the Independence Day,” says Edward Paul, a member of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

As per a letter written by the then Chief Engineer of Public Works Department, C. A. Smith, the building was ready by August 13, 1913, and formally occupied two days after by the then District Collector L.T. Harris.

Making an observation, the Chief Engineer, in his report, had also mentioned that the building would face water problem. Being perched on a hillock, it would be difficult to supply water from the water tanks located in the lower town against gravity. And that is how the Maharanipeta water tank was envisaged.

Many say that the building, which has already served as the citadel of district administration for more than a century, was built by a British construction firm Gannon and Dunkerley. However, historians at INTACH say that the architecture and design was finalised by architects in Madras Presidency and the construction works were undertaken by some local contractors under their supervision.

Members of INTACH say that Gannon and Dunkerley had built the present NGGOs building, which is located adjacent to the Collector’s building and it was inaugurated in 1945.

Heritage structure

The building that was built at a cost of around ₹3.5 lakh then is more famous for its architectural design. The ‘E’ shaped structure, with its wooden Burma teak flooring and hand railings, is a replica of medieval Gothic architecture. Though it remains an attraction for the heritage enthusiasts, then Chief Engineer Murray was not happy with its appearance. In his report, he had expressed displeasure over the placement of horse stables on the west side saying that it had hampered the view.

The district administration has already notified the building as a heritage structure and recently has installed a thematic lighting scheme too.

First Collector

Until 1794, Vizagapatam, as it was then known, was called a factory under the East India Company rule, and there was a ‘Chief of Vizagapatam’ overseeing its administration. In 1794, Vizagapatam was divided into three divisions with three Collectors posted. It was only in 1803 that Vizagapatam zilla or district was formally named and L.G.K. Murray was appointed as the first District Collector.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2021 3:09:47 AM |

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