Located on Clive Street (NS Road), and sandwiched between GPO and the Reserve Bank of India, the three storyed red-brick building of Calcutta Collectorate is a graceful and well-maintained heritage building of Colonial Calcutta. It was constructed in 1892, on the site of the old Customs Building and the furthest corner of the old Fort William, which was razed by Siraj-ud-Daula.
Originally, the East India Company used to engage a European as the Collector (Zaminder) and he in turn used to appoint a native (Black Zaminder) as his deputy. John Zephaniah Holwell, infamous for “Black Hole’’, was also a Zaminder and his native deputy, the Black Zaminder, was notorious Gobindram Mitter. Gobindram (or Gobindaram) was famously rich and said to be the first native of the town to have a horse drawn carriage. He was the man, who built the Navaratna Mandir (nine turreted temple) or “Black Pagoda” in Chitpur area. The temple was unfortunately knocked down by a disastrous cyclone in 1820. However, the ruins of the said temple can still be seen today.
In 1783, the office of the collector was situated on the southern side of Lalbazar, with the old jail (Harinbari) to its east. In 1820, the office shifted at the crossing of Chowringhee Road and Park Street. During 1830’s the Collector had his office at the Old Mint. From Church Lane the Collector moved to Bankshall Court, the three-storeyed building, which was formerly the office of the Revenue Board.
The present building was constructed in 1892, during the tenure of Sir Charles Elliot, as the Lt.-Governor of Bengal. The dignified building with its mansard roof is devoid of any tall romantic column or decorated divine pediment. But it has a grand arched entranceway, two beautiful corner towers and a central courtyard. The rooms on the 1st and 2nd floors are recessed and are attached to the broad veranda, which acts as a protective shield against the scorching heat of the summer months. Though the building does not have the grandeur of the Writers’ Building, it has a dignified grace of its own.
There was a proposal in 1973 to demolish this century old heritage building and erect a modern 18 storey skyscraper on the plot. But the extreme furore over the proposal compelled the Government to shelve the project.