Sunday, 10 March 2013

The Treasury Building & Spence's Hotel: the connection

The Treasury Building, Calcutta 

Treasury Building from the South- Eastern corner 

The Treasury Building is located near the High Court Building and just adjacent to the Town Hall. The exact location is the crossing of Esplanade Row (West) and the Government Place (West).  
A sign at the outside wall of the Treasury Building 
This gigantic and beautiful architecture was constructed between 1882 to 1884 during the tenure of Lord Ripon who was the Governor General of the British India. E J Martin was the architect and the Executive Engineer C J Mills was in charge of the entire construction.
At the Western outside wall of the Treasury building
The red brick structure was built on a classical quadrangular plane. It has tall windows with beautiful arches, matching sets of Corinthian pillars and railed roofs with pair of phoenixes at intervals. The decorative tablets, arching gateways and beautiful mansards at each end of the long cloisters running along quadrangles making it gracefully gorgeous. 
Treasury building from the South West 
Keystone at Treasury building 
Originally it was meant to acomodate the offices of the finance department of the British India. Now it housed the main office of the Principal Accountant General (audit & accounts), Government of West Bengal. 
Entrance at the Southern side
Restoration work was done by the Central Public Works Department. 
Actually it was the site where the Spence's Hotel was located. Spence's, the first ever hotel in Asia was opened to the public in 1830. To accomodate large number of regular visitors in the city the hotel constructed. The Government accquired the land to accomodate government offices. It was considered definitely the best in Calcutta. The Spence's was shifted to Wellesley Place near the Governnor's House later on. The photograph below was taken by Fredrik Fiebig in 1851 along the Clive Street looking South. 

The Spence's Hotel from the Government Place (West), Photo- Fredrik Fiebig (1851). 

There is a reference to Spences Hotel in Jules Verne's 'The Steam House' dated 1880. The author writes ''...before dawn, on the morning of our start, I left the Spences Hotel, one of the best in Calcutta which I had made my residence ever since my arrival''. 
But did he really stayed here? But still there is no other reference, so far.  
Spence's Hotel and St John's Church at the far end
The above photograph was taken by John Constantine Stanley (British, 1837- 1878) somewhere between 1858 to 1861. Only a few photographs have been found so far. Spence's Hotel was was shifted to Wellesley Place near Government place. Chowringhee, the popular novel written by Shankar ( Manishankar Mukhopadhyay) was based on this famous hotel which was located at Wellesley Place.