Stone House - very first one in Ooty hill station built by John Sullivan is to be renovated

Stone House built by John Sullivan

Ooty location map, TN.

The Stone House, first ever colonial  residence  built in  1822-23 in Ooty, Nigiris hills  is a historical and heritage site.  the interesting historical fact is  was built by the indigenous  tribes - Thodas (who lived in upper Nilgiris)  for John Sullivan, the then District Collector of Coimbatore,  representing the Madras  Presidency under the East India Company rule. When the construction work of his residence was on, Sullivan took keen interest in it because he liked the lush green land and the serene ambiance around it.  Further, the native tribes were of great help to him.  He was  the first English man to have  ascended an unknown rugged mountain -  Nilgris  hill and discovered a lovely  hill station for the European settlers   who were very much troubled by the tropical  weather  on the plains, particularly,  during the hot summer season.  The Oak  Tree  close to the stone house is as old as the house itself.  

Sullivan memorial

Above image: This 2 story small building was built by Sullivan  at Kannerimukku village near Kotagiri ( elevation: 5,883 ft).   This red bungalow,  goes by the name of  the Pethakal Bungalow named after a sacred stone that existed there.. It houses  a memorial and a small museum but is 2 km away from Kottagiri village. which is not on the popular route. ........  

When Sullivan went uphill for the first time  he was accompanied by a band of  soldiers, hunters,  elephants and ponies (who were disbanded halfway), trail-blazing through   dense shola-filled forests and steep cliffs.   On his second trip to  Dimbatty (which means soft, pillow like) in 1819 he lost his heart and decided to have a house built there. In the 5 acre spread  bought from the tribes, he experimented potatoes and English vegetables. Today, the area is called Kannerimukku where stands the two-story structure  that houses the memorial and Museum.  It was almost in ruins, slowly crumbling and today the building stands with majesty. Thanks to funds from the state government and donation from the public. Not many visitors  come here because of its isolation off Kotagiri village. Wooded mountain terrain  On Nilgiris mountain opened  up  a  new  vista of unexplored areas for him and fellow British explorers.  Decades later tea and coffee plantations came up there as the weather on the hill was quite suitable to their growth.

Stone House Ooty, TN

Stone House built by John Sullivan

With sloping roof,  and thick stone walls and a fire place in the large living room the ''Stone House''  was almost like a British cottage in a an English village designed in a simple way. The fire  place in the living room  would keep the inmates cozy and  comfortable  during  harsh winter  on the hill.   After retirement  Sullivan  had settled down and  spent much of his time with his family  in the house  called Sullivan's Oak.  To day it is being used as the office of   the Principal of Government Arts College. In June 2020 the Government  college observed 232nd birth anniversary of John Sullivan  in a special ceremony on the college promises.

Every year John Sullivan's birth anniversary  is  celebrated  as an official  ceremony  by the district collector office. It is quite disappointing that a permanent  memorial for Sullivan  is nor yet built in Ooty by the state government. In June 2019 on the occasion of paying homage to Sullivan the local people and  the Nilgiris Documentation Centre (NDC)  appealed for Tamil Nadu Governor’s intervention to set up an official memorial for Sullivan at Ooty,  the head quarters of Nilgiris. Their desire is to have   a permanent memorial and a museum  in honor of Sullivan.  If Ooty is what is today it is because of John Sullivan who had also built the  famous Ooty lake where boating is a common feature..  

Stone House,

Stone House, Ooty.

Responding positively  to the request made by the Govt. college officials to renovate the  Stone House,  in June 2020 the government took a decision to renovate the  oldest  colonial  building  in Ooty (Udhagamandalam or Udagai)  built by John Sullivan, who was supposedly the founder of the British settlement in the Nilgiris  and first ever hill station in the British empire. The government had a plan to spend Rs.8.2 crore to renovate the 200 plus year old  structure. 

The Stone House has to be renovated soon because of time factor and   slow deterioration in some places of the building  primarily due to climatic changes.  The restoration work will be entrusted to experienced conservationists as the heritage value and  aesthetics of the building should not get affected on account of  conservation. The  experts will try to choose the construction materials matching those that were used 200 years ago  to retain the old charm and heritage look.

Despite the time factor and acts of vagaries of weather, the building stands with majesty as a symbol of British legacy in this part of Ooty.