Sunday 15 September 2013

It once housed the Resident

It once belonged to Sir Mark Cubbon, the British Commissioner for the Mysore State. It was the place from where the British Resident set out on his rounds.
The movement of the Resident on the road gave the road the name Residency Road. Today, the place from where the Resident began his jamboree and the Residency Road are caught in a “commercial” trap, a sign of Bangalore’s urbanisation.
The Residency Road is a hotchpotch of old buildings, convents, new structures a one-way system that is maddeningly slow. The erstwhile building housing the Resident has disappeared behind other buildings and today it exists only in books of Bangalore history and in photographs.
Very few persons today can access the old Residency as it is now the home of  the Chief General Manager of India’s largest bank,          
State Bank of India (SBI).
The building is Hopeville and it is situated or rather hidden behind the local office building of the SBI on St, Marks Road. Thankfully, the SBI has preserved the house in almost mint condition and the house boasts of furniture and artifacts dating back to the period of Cubbon.
This house has a crucial link with the local history of Bangalore. It was the home of several Residents from 1831 till the post was abolished in 1843.
It was also the place where  C.B. Sanders, Judicial Commissioner of Mysore who held charge of Mysore State for a while after Mark Cubbon, too stayed.
The British style bungalow was built by Cubbon and its original furniture is more than 160 years old. It came into the hands of the Bank of Madras in 1864 when it purchased it for Rs. 30,000. This was five years after Cubbon resigned from the post of Commissioner.
By then, the house had passed into the hands of  Charles James Green, a retired Major General of the Madras Army. The sale by him to the bank not only included the iconic Hopeville but also twelve acres of lush green park surrounding it.
Hopeville is one of they few buildings which still retains vestiges of the British Raj. The house still preserves the teak furniture and many wood artifacts that go back to the 1850s. There are also several paintings, including one which depict the Mysore Durbar. This painting is dedicated to Queen Victoria and Price Albert.
The paintings is dated 1850 and you can see Cubbon in the painting.
The bungalow is huge and it has five rooms, five bathrooms and two large living rooms. It is two-storied white structure. There is a secret passage that runs under the house and goes towards Cubbon Park. It has now been closed and nobody has dared to get it open.
Coming back to the how the house became the property of the SBI, the Bank of  Madras became Imperial Bank of India and in 1955 it transformed into the State Bank of India.

The building served as an inspiration for other structures such as  the Bangalore Club, Balabrooie and Raj Bhavan, all in Bangalore.

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