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Baby step for Audrey House makeover

Art lovers, picture some good news. The historic Audrey House in Ranchi has taken the first step to transform itself into a conservation centre, replete with paintings, sculptures, rare photographs and antique items.

Governor Syed Ahmed on Saturday laid the foundation of the much-awaited Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre on the premises of the 19th Century recreation complex, built by a British captain, which is now a part of Raj Bhavan.

The Rs 7-crore project — undertaken by the state art and culture department with technical support from INTACH (Jharkhand Chapter) — has been sanctioned under the 13th Finance Commission.

The upcoming culture centre, which will sprawl over 30,000sqft, will comprise a single-storey conservation building, a conference hall, a library, a documentation centre, an open-air theatre with a total seating capacity of 600, a tribal centre to depict life and livelihood of indigenous people and an artefacts museum.

Captain Hannyngton had built Audrey House more than 150 years ago. In the not-so-distant past, when Ranchi was the summer capital of undivided Bihar, it served as the secretariat. The governor’s house was constructed later.

Currently, Audrey House lies vacant except for a small portion that houses the law commission’s office.

Sources said the art and culture department floated the tender to invite bidders three days ago. The last date to submit applications is February 11. The tender will be opened the same day.

INTACH’s Jharkhand Chapter convener S.D. Singh said confirmed the developments. “We are in the final stages of starting our dream project. The new centre will humour art lovers.” He added that construction and revamp work would start next month. “The blueprint is ready. Once the bidder is finalised, work will begin. We will complete the centre in 10 months after that.”