The majestic building of the Chartered Bank Building, located at the corner of NS Road and India Exchange Place, was constructed by Martin & Co of Sir Rajen Mookerjee in 1908, at a cost of 962,000 Rupees. The magnificent building was designed by Calcutta based reputed architect Edward Thornton, who also designed the Palatial Royal Insurance Building, located on the Western side of the Dalhousie Square, at the crossing of NS Road Koilaghat Street, just opposite to the graceful General Post Office Building of Calcutta.
The more than a century old Chartered Bank Building, crowned with a big central dome and smaller ones on the projected side bays, originally belonged to the royal family of Burdwan. The stately building is equipped with a 110 feet tall tower, facing India Exchange Place, while another 135 foot tower faces N.S. Road. Based on Byzantine theme and decorated with arched façade and distinctive red and white stripes, it assumes quite a different look among all the other colonial heritage buildings in the area. The typical combination of red and white design on the rusticated exterior was created by the use of exposed bricks and Porbunder stones from Bombay.
There was a day, when the pompous building of the Chartered Bank was visible from a long distance, even from a launch or a country boat floating smoothly along the River Hooghly, as its domes bobbing between the Eastern Railway building and the old building of Mackinnon & Mackenzie. Apart from the Bank, during its golden days, the massive building housed many famous commercial companies, like FW Hielgers & Co and Bird & Co. When the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China merged with the Standard Bank of British South Africa to form Standard Chartered Bank in 1969, the bank with the new name operated roaring business from the building.
However, those youthful roaring days did not last long, as with the advent of 1990s, the economy became stagnant. As the first resort to tide over the financial problems, the Bank curtailed the establishment and operational costs.
However, as that was not sufficient enough to save the situation, they had to take the ultimate decision to move out of the century old premises and sell the iconic building, which was known by the name of the Bank.
In fact, the London-based bank came up with a plan to save $1.8 billion cost globally by the end of 2017 and as a part of the plan, decided to put the iconic building for sale. According to the prime real estate agencies in Calcutta, the total space available in the building is a little less than 100,000 square feet and the property is priced at around 13,000 to 14,000 Rupees per square feet.
Today, the spacious ground floor, unattended for a long time and covered with dust and dirt, is lying vacant. Office of the once thriving Bird & Co on the first floor is almost defunct.
Dust and spider webs have almost covered the window panes on the ground floor and deep rooted plants are creating cracks in the upper floors The once glamorous building today looks old and forlorn, dilapidated and discarded.