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Indian consulate in New York to restore 111-year-old consulate building

By Rizwan Sayed

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New York (Dec 01, 2014): India is planning to renovate its 111-year-old consulate building here to preserve its heritage and bring it back to its former glory. The Consulate building is a part of the Upper East Side Historic District, as declared by the Landmarks Preservation Commission of New York in 1981. 

This building was built for Carrie Astor, a prominent American socialite, in 1903 as a private residence. The Beaux Arts street facade is constructed of Indiana Limestone with a mansard roof of blue slate. The design is in the manner of Percier and Fontaine, who revived the French Renaissance style of Hardouin Mansart, a statement by the Indian consulate said.

In 1950, it was bought by the Indian government and came to be known as New India House. The building houses the Consulate General of India since then. The Consulate had already been conducting an extensive cleanliness drive, since April 2013, much before the October 2 launch of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Swachh Bharat campaign.

The Indian Consulate in NY is being hailed as a model of 'Swachh Consulate,' setting an example for other Indian missions and posts abroad to take up similar efforts. 

Paperwork dated older than three decades, decrepit equipment and potential bio-hazards, which were occupying precious space in the pre-war era building, were weeded out and destroyed. Roughly 90,000 documents were scanned and digitalized daily in the first few months, to salvage paperwork that was still required for reference. Incidentally, a long lost life-size portrait of Sardar Patel was also unearthed in this drive, in addition to precious glassware and cutlery.

At the end of the cleaning phase of the drive, the Consulate is now looking into restoration and renovation of the building to bring it back to its former glory.