An elegant, historic school building opposite Charni Road railway station has been drawing admiring glances from train commuters after it was recently restored to its former glory. The 132-year-old structure houses the Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Parsee Charitable Institute (BJPCI) and is a landmark Grade II B heritage building. The formal dedication of the restored building will take place Thursday November 9.
MUMBAI: An elegant, historic school building opposite Charni Road railway station has been drawing admiring glances from train commuters after it was recently restored to its former glory. The 132-year-old structure houses the Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Parsee Charitable Institute (BJPCI) and is a landmark Grade II B heritage building. The formal dedication of the restored building will take place Thursday November 9.
Nurtured by careful upkeep, the institute had won the Indian Heritage Society’s Urban Heritage Award in 1993.
Article by Bella Jaisinghani | Times of India
Vandana Nambiar, principal of the senior school and junior college, says that everyone from the students and teachers to train travellers have been gazing in amazement. “I am working here since 1997, and it is like a second home. The building looks so beautiful!”
Trustee Rustom Nanabhoy Jeejeebhoy, a descendant of the pioneering Jeejeebhoy family of erstwhile Bombay, said, “We are fortunate to be able to preserve our collective heritage despite pressure from builders, who as you may guess, do come to us with offers. The school faced damage by cyclone, leakage, and corrosion due to its proximity to the sea. We needed an expert architect with a feather touch to execute this task because it calls for minimum intervention. One cannot give a fancy modern look to a heritage building.”
Proper permission was procured from the Heritage Committee for the work.
Conservation architect Vikas Dilawari, who undertook the restoration, has been associated it with it since 1989 and this was his first project. He said, “The BJPCI is a beautiful structure located on Maharishi Karve Road, which was earlier known as Queens Road. When constructed in 1908 it overlooked the sea and was located midway of what is today Marine Drive or Queen’s Necklace. Architecturally it is modern Gothic in style crowned by a statue of the goddess of learning.”
“With 1,400 students and the school being in use for 10 months a year, we get only two months of vacation to work. The Covid lockdown as well as two cyclones cumulatively damaged the wooden structural members and tiled roof, caused termite infestation, and uprooted fully grown trees. These have been addressed in the present repairs.”
Apart from the monsoon roof repairs, facade restoration and structural repairs, the team refurbished common areas and the entire second floor hall, classrooms and library, as well as the front fencing. The school has one of the finest cast iron fencing in the entire city, which thankfully became visible after the footover bridge masking it was demolished.
A private firm named Virtusa Corporation that specialises in digital engineering and technology services, came forward to fund this Rs 1.5 crore project through its philanthropic arm Virtusa Foundation. CEO and executive director of the corporation Santosh Thomas said, “The foundation has a programme to foster access to education for 15 years. These initiatives have benefited 20,000 students. With the restoration of this 132-year-old beautiful structure, we have achieved another milestone in this mission that will benefit students and society for generations.”
Citing the significance of conscientious donors, Dilawari said, “Private entities or patrons are a must for promoting and conserving our heritage. The best examples of conservation in our city are happening only because of public private partnership. This model allows flexibility to choose the best contractor and execute the work with high standards.”