Home > General, Jew, Mumabi Jews, Mumbai, Mumbai Architecture, Mumbai History > David Sassoon Library, Mumbai

David Sassoon Library, Mumbai

David Sassoon Library

Kala Ghoda, Mumbai

Bang opposite the Kala Ghoda (Black Horse) stands an elegant building, complete with pointed arches and crowned with a clock. It is the David Sassoon Library. The library building along with several Victorian Gothic and Art Deco buildings of the region is part of a UNESCO Heritage Site known as The Victorian and Art Deco Ensemble of Mumbai.

David Sassoon Library, Mumbai

David Sassoon Library, Mumbai

The origin of the library dates back to 1847 when a group of young mechanics and foremen of the Royal Mint and Government Dockyard established a museum for mechanical models and architectural design. The museum also housed a small library. The institute and the library came to be known as the Bombay Mechanics Institue.

Bust of David Sassoon

Bust of David Sassoon

The library is still in operation and happens to be the oldest living library and reading room in Mumbai

Although the library is in operation the original building no longer exists. Within two decades of the establishment, the museum and library were short of space and needed a larger campus.

In came David Sassoon, a Bagdadi Jew, a prominent businessman who has made Mumbai (then Bombay) his home back in 1830s

In 1863 the estimated cost of the building was ₹ 125,000 and David Sassoon agreed to pay ₹ 60,000. The balance cost was borne by the Bombay Presidency.

Plaque at David Sassoon Library

Plaque at David Sassoon Library

Sadly David Sassoon died a year later and the construction started in 1867.The building was designed by architects J. Campbell and G. E. Gosling, for the Scott McClelland and Company.

The building built with yellow Malad stone and followed the Venetian Gothic style of architecture was inaugurated in 1870. It housed the library and came to be known as the David Sassoon Library.

Today the building stands in the very heart of Mumbai’s fort area is located bang opposite the new rider less statue of Kala Ghoda (Black Horse).

After the inauguration of the David Sassoon Library, David Sassoon’s eldest son Albert Abdullah Sassoon installed a clock at the top of the building. He also added a bust of David Sassoon atop the arched entrance of the building.

There were plans of adding an auditorium at the back of the library but due to lack of funds and other various reasons, it never happened. So today the library has a small patch of green at its back yard something very unexpected at the heart of Mumbai. Today this open patch of green serves as a open air spaces serves as a venue for concerts, stage performances and other related activities.

David Sassoon's statue and interior of David Sassoon Library, Mumbai

David Sassoon’s statue and interior of David Sassoon Library, Mumbai

The interiors are well laid out and a narrow passageway, with beautiful tiled floor leads to the full lengthe statue of David Sassoon. The full length marble statue is a work of sculptor Thomas Woolner.

Interior of David Sassoon Library, Mumbai (left to right): Statue of David Sassoon, corridors leading to the entrance and bust of James J Berkley

Interior of David Sassoon Library, Mumbai (left to right): Statue of David Sassoon, corridors leading to the entrance and bust of James J Berkley

The statue was commissioned by the governor of Bombay and subscription came in from friends and well-wishers of David Sassoon. The ground floor is mainly used for official and administrative purposes. The library is located on the first floor and a three-stage stairway leads to the first floor. The stair passes past a marble bust of James J Berkley, chief engineer of the Great Peninsular Railway. The library houses a large collection of books and periodicals.

Interior of David Sassoon Library, Mumbai

interior of David Sassoon Library, Mumbai

Presently the ground floor of the library is rented out to Helios Watches and Lund and Blockley Opticians, proving much-needed revenue for the upkeep of the Library. In 1996 the David Sassoon Library went through a large scale renovation on the occasion of its 150th anniversary.

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: