You could call it almost the midpoint of Kolkata. The Loudon Mansion at 7 Loudon Street, is a magnificent structure − a manor house in its time, and now restored in almost its entirety keeping the former character intact. Looming subtly are The Loudon Residences, an elegant multi-storeyed structure, surveying its hoary cousin with curiosity.

Curious certainly the invitees were at the recent Kounteya Sinha curated initiative titled NIGURO done in the old restored manor. It was a multilayered exposition of Kali presented by leading artists and designers of the city: Partha Dasgupta, Sanjay Bhattacharya, Krishnapriyo Dasgupta, Srikanta Paul, Nayna Gupta, Robin Roy, Hemal Kapadia, Ishan Pattanaik, Diptish Ghosh Dastidar, assisted by Santanu Mitra, Tejas Doshi and Mandeep Sharma.

Drawings, paintings, etchings, installations, play of light with the city’s imagery, and much more − and as the sun began to dip in the horizon, on the outside, the eyes of Kali lit-up as the picture shows. Women from key walks of life were invited to add color and content, and they, along with the artists, shared their inspirations, sensibilities and stories.

For this writer, it was a greatly sentimental journey to a house which had seen the beginnings of my life. Entering its portals as a young bride, this forty kottah property was home for a decade, vibrant with memories of rolling lawns, two greenhouses, a mysterious basement which had been an air raid shelter during World War II, an array of stables, and a fully brick-worked mansion with vaulted ceilings and Italian marbled floors and stained glass and ornamentation − it was a fairytale property.

A British civil engineer William Clark is credited with the famous tied brick arches and the building made entirely of brick. Sir David Ezra bought it thereafter towards the end of the nineteenth century, and if finally went to Keshav Basu, speaker of the Legislative Assembly in the 1940s.

When we came into the picture it was my father-in-law who, being away out of the country, lost out in his bid for 7 Loudon against Keshav Basu. More’s the pity. We continued living there and had as neighbors the Elias family in the upper portion of the manor. The last woman standing was Helen Elias, who never gave in to pressures of the realtors. And the property changed hands many times. We despaired as we relocated and saw the structure crumbling as we passed the street ever so often.

Until now, when we found the Bhuwalka family possessing and reviving 7 Loudon − the heritage preserved, commerce entering in the form of Fabindia to keep the place ongoing, the new age residences gaining foothold in today’s times and other high end luxury brands still to enter the picture.

But we at wotweb believe that, given the efforts at keeping the old look and feel, the setting should continue to be a space for the arts to be showcased when possible. Heritage demands it.