How old is GRATITUDE?...we do not have a precise age but it is estimated that it could be as old as early 19th century which makes it a good 150 years old or more.
It belonged to a Franco-Tamil family who owned quite a few houses on Rue Romain Rolland and they were subsequently divided amongst the descendants. We have also been told that it was possibly a hospice at some time. There is an embedded iron box in Room 4 and if opened, it could possibly give clues to the age of the building. But we have decided to let it be the way it is....and it remains unopened with no keys.
By the year 2004 when we bought the house from Eugene (who moved to France and has since passed), the house desperately needed repairs. The old Madras terrace roof had several layers of corrugated tarpaulin to keep the rain out. Over the years the wood used had been painted with enamel paint to keep it from getting damaged. The lime plasters had been repaired in bits and pieces wherever water had seeped in. The entire building had only one bathroom. It was interesting to see the many colours that emerged as layers of paint were stripped off the walls...
With the help of Ajit, Arul and Ashok and their team from Intach Pondicherry, we decided to restore the house using every traditional method that had been used.
New portions had to be added and it was a natural choice to make it exactly with the same techniques. The work was executed by R. Chandramohan and team and after three long years of planning, modifying, re-designing and after many uplifting moments and frustrating ones too, GRATITUDE is now, hopefully, more beautiful than it has ever been.
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