Historic school building to be restored to its former glory

The government of Sethu Lakshmi Bai the school of Nagercoil started 93 years ago

The government of Sethu Lakshmi Bai the school of Nagercoil started 93 years ago

Those who have read Sundara Ramasamy’s short story,
Mr Nadar will experience the majestic Travancore-style red brick building that houses the Sethu Lakshmi Bai Government Higher Secondary School in Nagercoil.

The 93-year-old school, once favored by all parents in Kanniyakumari district for its academic and athletic excellence, has been gradually eclipsed by the proliferation of private English schools. Years of neglect have weighed heavily on its structure, especially the roof. Today, the Heritage Division of the Public Works Department (PWD) has launched a project to restore and conserve the building.

“We are restoring the building as part of a conservation project for 14 heritage buildings in the Kanniyakumari district. The total allocation is over ₹4.43 crore,” said S. Manikandan, Executive Engineer, Heritage Division of PWD.

Built in 1928 on a sprawling campus with exclusive grounds for football, basketball, volleyball and other games, the campus’ enormity is explained by the fact that the district administration has chosen for the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to address a public gathering and the dais erected because the goal is still there. The 21,864 square foot building has giant windows and the ceiling is paved with teak wood and Mangalore tiles

The building leaked during the rain as the roof was damaged and the water destroyed the teak frames. Instead of keeping the structure in its original form, PWD paved concrete on the roof in some places and attached tiles.

Mr. Manikandan said that was before the creation of the heritage division. “From now on, all works strictly follow traditional conservation and preservation methods.”

Erode-based Kadal Constructions bagged the building restoration project.

“Before laying the slabs, the frames are covered with galvanized sheets [GI sheets] to avoid leaks. We also repair windows and paint them with varnish. The floors will be paved with Athangudi tiles,” said R. Rajesh, Director of Kadal Constructions.

He said that at first it was difficult to find workers because they weren’t ready to climb the high ceiling.

“Many came but walked away saying it was risky. Somehow we made it. We will start work early and finish before the hot sun comes. We will get back to work in the afternoon,” Mr. Rajesh said, expressing hope that the works would be completed by the end of February next year.