Here is restored heritage


Gallery Sri Parvati, which has been a part of Madras Week this year and the last, is a 1930s heritage home that has been refurbished. It is not a well-known heritage landmark such as the Bharat Insurance Building or Gokhale Hall. But this gallery or home is worth talking about during Madras Week because it is an excellent example of what proper restoration can do. Those who have old homes would do well to take a leaf from owner Lakshmi Venkataraman’s book.

According to Lakshmi, in the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s, the place used to come alive with the laughter of children and the pitter-patter of their feet as they played through the day while frogs croaked in the large pond in the premises. After Soundarya Nursery shifted, P.S. Venkataraman, a builder, established his home over four-and-a-half grounds on 33 (now 28/160) Eldams Road in 1935. It was a typical old-fashioned home, a screen dividing the big hall into two sections, a dining hall, a kitchen and a small room. Rajammal, Venkataraman’s wife, would tend to the banana and mango trees and feed the cows in the cowshed.

This was where their daughter Lakshmi grew up and spent the first 40 years of her life. She remembers taking the bus to school when there would be hardly any traffic on the roads. Laksmi decided against pulling down the house; instead, she restored the building and turned it into a cultural centre. Part of the ground floor is now let out as office space.

Sri Parvati (fa├žade seen above) is named after Lakshmi’s grandmother.

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