A few months from now, this sturdy, more than a century old, stone building will be abuzz with activity, turning into the political epicentre of the democracy’s biggest carnival — Delhi assembly elections.
However, what is interesting is the history which surrounds the place, formally known as the Delhi State Election Commission’s Office on Lothian Road near Kashmere Gate.
Built in 1890, the building, designed by Samuel Swinton Jacob, was also home to an equally prestigious institution before the election commission’s office came up.
An information plaque in front of it reads: “This building was part of the St Stephen’s College. The two-storey building is entered through a majestic porch. Both the floors have arched colonnades. On the corner of the northern side are semi-octagonal turrets enclosing circular staircases.”
St Stephen’s College, which started functioning from a small house near Kinari Bazar, was housed in this building from 1891 till 1941, when it shifted to the present site in north campus.
“I remember my elders telling me, just like St Stephen’s College and the Hindu College are located right in front of each other today in the university campus, those days too, the two institutions were right across each other,” recalls Devaki Nandan Bagla, a businessman who stays at Chotta Bazar, a stone’s throw away from the Delhi State Election Commission’s Office.
Though the building bears a typical sarkari stamp, with its walls built of dressed Delhi quartzite and sandstone on iron girders and despite the several additional constructions in the compound, it has managed to stand apart in the clutter of daily life.