Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Curzon and Company: Colonial Furniture Shop at Mount Road, Madras

Curzon & Co Colonial Furniture Shop @ Mount Road - Ellis Road Intersection
Mr. Chimato Seshachalam the son of Alavandar
George Nathaniel Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, KG, GCSI, GCIE, PC (6 Jan 1899 – 18 Nov 1905)

Curzon & Co, the  116 year old furniture dealers and carpenters, is housed in a characteristic  two-story colonial style building at  No 137, Opposite MLA Hostel Near Anna Statue, Wallajah Road, Mount Road, Chennai - 600002. The shop was inaugurated in 1898 by Chimato Alavandar Chetty when Lord George Nathaniel Curzon, the 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, the Viceroy of India visited Madras. This event could have prompted Alavandar Chetty to name the shop in honour of Lord George Nathaniel Curzon. To keep pace with time the family partnership business is managed at present by the members of the fourth generation.  
George Nathaniel Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, KG, GCSI, GCIE, PC (11 January 1859 – 20 March 1925),

One can easily findout this oldest surviving furniture shop and the unique signboard, 'Curzon' at the interection of Wallajah Road and Ellis Road. This  imposing colonial style building, with grand front entrances, tall columns, high ceilings, arches, houses the antique rosewood rolltop desks, colonial sofas, huge size rosewood cots and many more teak furniture items.

Mr. Chimato Seshachalam the son of Alavandar was only six years when his father expired. With the support of his maternal family he graduated law and even served in the chambers of V. Krishnaswami Ayyar. Since the family persuaded his presence in the family business, he associated himself in this business. His initiative in specialising in library furniture with the guidance of Dr S. R. Ranganathan, the father of Indian library science, brought name and fame. The Curzon's library furnitures are still in use at Madras University Library, Dr. Ambedkar Law University, Madras Medical College, Bishop Heber College (Trichy), Madras Institute of Development Studies, and Pachaiyappa's College. The furniture are also in use at Raj Bhavan, Chennai, government offices in Kurnool and at few residences of people like M.S. Subbalakshmi.

Mr.C.Seshachalam,  popularly known as ‘Curzon Chettiar', established the first saw mill in 1935 in Guindy and brought innovation in his carpentary workshop through mechanized planing, cutting of wood and furniture assembling. Curzons was able to withstand the competition with Spencers and Wrenn Bennett.

Now the legendary furniture showroom has reached its centenary year in 1998 and today most of what remains is Curzon & Co's rich history. 

Reference:   

  1. Once, viceregal furniture by S.Muthiah. Chennai. The Hindu Jun 13, 2005
  2. Survivors of time: Of time and tables Asha Sridhar Anusha Parthasarathy The Hindu  August 23, 2011

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