Murree’s nine historical buildings declared ‘special premises’

Published July 4, 2014
Holy Trinity Church.
Holy Trinity Church.
Bright Land Hotel.
Bright Land Hotel.

LAHORE: Nine historical buildings at Murree have been declared special premises under Special Premises (Preservation) Ordinance 1985 by the Punjab archeology directorate general, sources told Dawn.

Sources said a meeting was held at Murree regarding the development and preservation of the hill station’s heritage buildings on May 16, 2014.

The meeting deputed a team on behalf of Directorate General of Archeology to coordinate with the team constituted by communication and works (C&W) secretary comprising representatives of Punjab architecture department and Nespak.

A joint survey was conducted by the teams comprising technical experts of 16 buildings identified by the Murree Town Municipal Administration for preservation.

The sources said that after carrying out thorough inspections, analysis and keeping in view the archeological, historical and architectural significance of these buildings, the teams jointly prepared and submitted a report.

To discuss and examine the recommendations of the report, a meeting was held with the archeology directorate general. The meeting decided that out of 16 buildings identified by the local administration only 9 could be declared special premises on merit.

These buildings are: Bright Land Hotel, GPO Mall Road, Cecil Hotel (a portion), Convent of Jesus and Mary School, Lawrence College, Holy Trinity Church, Mall Road, Murree Christian School Garyal Camp, Presentation Convent School and Saint Margaret Union Church.

The measures that were taken to declare these buildings as special premises included topographical survey of the selected structures and their surroundings, comprehensive documentation, including photographic and graphic documentation, architectural drawings and history of interventions.

Study of general environment inside and outside the monuments and preparation of a detailed conservation and restoration plan addressing all issues.

The Bright Land Hotel located on Imtiaz Shaheed Road, Murree , is a private property owned by Ghulam Qadir, built in 1860. Originally, the building was constructed as a residence by Sardar Bahadur Mr NJ Jamas–Jee & Sons.

General Post Office, Mall Road, was built in 1876 by the British. The building adds value to the beauty of the area. It has undergone numerous interventions. Today its facade is completely different from the visual icon it was in 1876. In 1970, the façade was torn down in the name of modernisation.

Cecil Hotel, one of the oldest hotels in Pakistan, located on Mount View Road, was built in 1851 owned by Lakhani Group. Present building of the hotel was originally built in 1858. It has a very rich history almost as old as the discovery of the region itself, by the Raj. In 1940, the building was converted into the official house of Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India. It was converted into a hotel by a Rawalpindi based businessman in 1957. Lakhani Group bought it in 1998 through an open auction and is the current owners.

Convent of Jesus & Mary School was built in 1876. The Convent of Jesus and Mary, Murree, was considered one of the best boarding schools for girls in Pakistan. It was first built in 1876. The original building was reduced to ashes in the great fire of 1904 and the new structure was completed by 1913.

Lawrence College was built in 1860. Sir Henry Lawrence was the force behind the Lawrence schools in the subcontinent. The asylum at Ghora Gali was first elevated to a school in 1914 and then a college in 1926, to be ranked as the Oldest Residential Educational Institution in the country. Presently, it is an elite public boarding school located at Ghora Gali. It was founded as an asylum school for orphans in 1860 during the British Raj and named after Maj Gen Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence. The Lawrence Asylum at Ghora Gali was renamed Lawrence Royal Military School in 1920. In 1927 the name was changed to Lawrence College, Ghora Gali.

Holy Trinity Church was built in 1875 on the Mall Road, Murree. One of the earliest buildings erected in the area, it stands out as a prominent landmark of Murree. Until 1875, it lay further away from the then main market or ‘lower bazaar’ as it is now known. But when the market was burnt down in a huge fire in 1875, a new Mall strip was built in its place in an area overlooked by the church grounds and parallel to the ‘lower bazaar’. The church was the centre of early colonial life and still serves the town's remaining Christian population and the visitors.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2014

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