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Restoration of Kolkata’s British-era Town Hall to start soon

The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) will soon start restoration of the historic 204-year-old Town Hall, an official said on Tuesday.

To ease the process, the civic authority is likely to dismantle the museum – Kolkata Panorama -housed within the British-era building. The museum was billed as “India’s first hi-tech story-telling museum” depicting the evolution of the city.

Built in Roman-Doric style, the heritage structure will be restored in collaboration with state Public Works Department (PWD) and in consultation with experts from IIT Roorkee.

“The restoration will take 18 months and the items of the museum will be shifted. It will start soon,” said Debasish Kumar, Member, Mayor-in-Council (Parks & Gardens), KMC.

The Town Hall designed by architect-engineer Maj. Gen. John Garstin was paid for by public lottery. Its portico is fronted by six giant Tuscan pillars and is Palladian in style.

The building was plagued with subsidence and flooding since its inception in 1809 until well after its formal opening in 1813.

Garstin overhauled it at its own expense in 1819.

According to the state Tourism Department, the two-storied building was originally used for public meetings, receptions, balls, and concerts that generally took place on the upper floor, which is boarded with teak with a 30-feet-high ceiling.

In 1867, Town Hall came under the custody of the Calcutta Municipality (now known as the Kolkata Municipal Corporation) and was partly renovated in 1897.

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