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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

94-year-old John Hall to be restored to past glory

Situated in Civil Lines area of the city, John Hall was built in 1925 in memory of John Goble Brayne, who was the second son of FL Brayne, who became the deputy commissioner of then Gurgaon in 1920. Brayne

gurugram Updated: Aug 30, 2019 08:02 IST
Sadia Akhtar
Sadia Akhtar
Hindustan Times, Gurugram
John Hall, at Civil Lines, near DC residence, in Gurugram. It will be renovated soon. (Photo by Parveen Kumar / Hindustan Times)
John Hall, at Civil Lines, near DC residence, in Gurugram. It will be renovated soon. (Photo by Parveen Kumar / Hindustan Times)
         

The colonial-era John Hall building will be given a facelift and restored to its original form, according to a plan prepared by the Haryana CSR Advisory Board (HCSRAB). Hindustan Times had, in June, reported that plans were afoot for the makeover of the 94-year-old building and a need-assessment survey was being carried out for the same. Based on the findings of the survey, a project management unit (PMU) of the HCSRAB has come up with a blueprint to restore the place so that its importance as a historical structure in the city can be established.

Situated in Civil Lines area of the city, John Hall was built in 1925 in memory of John Goble Brayne, who was the second son of FL Brayne, who became the deputy commissioner of then Gurgaon in 1920. Brayne took charge of Gurgaon at a time when the area was suffering from an influenza epidemic and coping with the effects of a failed monsoon.

Listed as one of the places of interest on the Haryana tourism website, John Hall has always occupied an important place in the administrative functioning of the city. “Gurgaon was merely a village till 1819. Later, when it was converted into a district, an ICS British officer, FL Brayne was posted as deputy commissioner. His second son, John Goble Brayne, died at an early age and this grand hall was built in his memory. It was later renamed Agricultural Hall and used for holding meetings and functions (sic),” mentions the description on the website.

Currently, the place is used by the government for meetings, and is only opened for official work. The hall was renamed Swatantra Senani Zila Parishad Hall a few years ago, and is under the ownership of the zila parishad. “We have passed a resolution and handed over the restoration project to the CSR advisory board,” said Satender Duhan, CEO, zila parishad, Gurugram.

Gaurav Singh, additional CEO and regional head of HCSRAB (Gurugram region), said the heritage value of the place had deteriorated over the years and needed to be restored. Under the restoration plan, a memorandum of understanding will be signed with private players in September for funding.

“John Hall is a historical place, but its heritage has suffered over the years and has almost been depleted. On the exterior, it looks like an old structure, but on the inside, it has been covered with tiles and artificial panels. It doesn’t have the original heritage look,” Singh said. He added that site inspection had shown severe damage and necessitated a solution. “Initially, we only had plans to renovate the place and get repair work done. However, during the inspection, we found that mere renovations wouldn’t suffice. The place needed to be restored to its original look. The walls behind the tiles have deteriorated and the structure has decayed from the bottom,” he said.

As per the restoration plan, the artificial panels and tiles will be removed from the hall, and material dating back to the original time period will be used. “We have created a road map for a three-year-long project for now and the total project cost is currently estimated at ₹3.60 crore. We will use the same kind of wood used decades ago to create the original structure. The flooring and walls will be redone. We will undertake a survey to find out the kind of vegetation that the place had decades back. The trees and the flowers that grew here will be planted again,” Singh said.

A team including members of the Archaeological Survey of India is working on the blueprint, based on which the building will be restored. In the first phase, the interior of the building will be designed, followed by the exteriors thereafter. Additionally, there are plans to create an amphitheatre-cum-rainwater harvesting system on the grounds outside. “We have taken inputs from the Gurujal team, the district chapter of Jal Shakti Abhiyan and will be creating an amphitheatre-cum-rainwater harvesting system with 1 lakh litre capacity. The rooftop of this project will have solar panels. We have created a comprehensive plan of these units,” Singh said.

First Published: Aug 29, 2019 22:34 IST