Holding on to the legacy

Vintage House

Holding on to the legacy

Young Kyara Mascarehanas doesn’t take the 100-year-old house she lives in with her parents and grandmother for granted but has made an indepth study of its history and provenance tracing it back to over 100 years. “The house was built by an Englishman named John Armstrong in the late 1800s, was sold to a Laura and Jacob James in 1913. It then passed on to Florence and Kathleen, later to a gentleman named St Clair Thompson, who later bequeathed to one Maria Steele and finally bought by my grandparents Gladys and Joseph Mascarehanas in 1954,” she narrates with
consummate ease.

Screened from the busy street by tall palms, and probably one of the last few old homes left standing in Richmond Town, this colonial style bungalow has undoubtedly undergone a few cosmetic and practical changes but the super structure and character is still very much intact. “My mother Gladys, who is now 94 and living here with us was instrumental in buying it as she really liked the graceful proportions of the house with its spacious gardens. The premises were used by the well-known auctioneer Chester Allen till we moved in. It was a  perfect place for us kids to grow up in with lots of trees and fresh air,” says Fritz Mascarehanas, who lives there with his wife Diana and family.

Just like homes typical of the times, the house has an elegant porch that leads into a spacious hallway. High ceilinged with deeply recessed ventilators and old Italian tiles, the cool interiors never get overheated in summer. The two wings on either side consisted of en suite bedrooms with study and dressing rooms that have been converted to individual bedrooms. The slate grey kadappa slabs that covered the floor have been replaced by mosaic tiles in the living room but kept intact in the rest of the house. The family put in an ornamental pond in the front garden and the rear has outhouses for staff which are still standing.

Fritz gave up a lucrative career in the merchant navy to become a lay missionary over 30 years ago and their home today has become a refuge of sorts for those in need. “People in all sorts of trouble come here and we run an open house of sorts providing accommodation and help when we can,” says Diana. “Every house in our quiet residential neighbourhood had beautiful gardens and all the kids would play
together boisterous games which gave them plenty of exercise. We had so much less by way of material things than kids today but I remember we were far happier and content,” adds Fritz.

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