Passing on a piece of history

Vintage House

Passing on a piece of history

 A view of the house. DH photo by Manjunath M S

With brash new shopping malls arriving almost overnight and shops and apartment blocks crowding out the old spacious houses that once existed a fair distance apart, Little Gem, the home of Shirley and Brian Davis, is holding its own nicely in a part of Whitefield that is changing too rapidly.

Simple and unpretentious, this little cottage is set in a large garden filled with brightly coloured flowers, bushes and trees. Newer dwellings have been added to the spare land at the back but the house itself has remained intact with minimal alterations since it was built almost a century ago.

“It was constructed in the early 1900s by a William Charles Johnson and was called Rencot. In 1927, it was bought by a John Thomas Maloney who sold it to Noveshirwan Pallanji Chinoy in 1937. It then passed into the hands of Harry George Nicker in 1948, to Edward and Florence Deburgh in 1952 and then to my father William John Scott in 1970. The name of the very first owner too came full circle. We changed the name to Little Gem,” says Shirley who has kept track of the history of the place culling information carefully from a sheaf of old documents.

More like a cottage rather than a colonial style bungalow, the roof is low with a make-shift porch made from asbestos and draped with an abundantly flowering creeper. The limestone walls and tiled roof are still intact as is the old Italian tiled flooring that hasn’t lost its lustre. Sepia-toned pictures of old Portuguese ancestors adorn the walls of the dining room alongside old hunting trophies of deer antlers mounted on wooden boards.

The dining roomMy three uncles Walter, Alfred and Horace Lowe, all lived in Whitefield and donated their properties to the convent to carry on their philanthropic work. Whitefield then was a quiet little hamlet filled with interesting people but it was never dull. There were plenty of love stories and forbidden liaisons that kept the rumour mills busy and romances that carried across the seas along with the British settlers, who later moved away,” says Shirley.

“It was a friendly place where weekly markets were the hub of activity and the club held some nice social events for families and friends to meet. The City itself was considered a faraway place and not easy to get to as most people didn't have cars then,” she adds.

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