The Stone House of Ooty, first European house built by John Sullivan - renovation is on!!

renovation of stone house, Ooty, TN.

Above image: The Stone House, fist ever European structure, in Ooty is on the Govt. Arts College premises. Renovation is on. (photo courtesy:

Stone House, Ooty,

The Stone House, first ever colonial  residence  constructed  in  1822-23 in Ooty, Nigiris hills  is a historical and heritage site. The workers were mostly  indigenous hill  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 hilly place 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, according to Venugopal Dharmalingam, honorary director of the Nilgiri Documentation Center, was ''planted by  Sullivan in 1823 to commemorate the construction of the “Stone House”. The tree survived for around 180 years, but  collapsed under its own weight in 2000.   . 

It all began with Keys and Mc Maho surveyors, who were assigned to survey and explore the new hill on orders from the Collector of Coimbatore John Sullivan. Upon their favorable report on the inclement weather, lush green hills with tall trees, reminiscent of English country side, Sullivan undertook the tough expedition up hill and was  much impressed by the ambiance and serene environment with vast scope for outdoor activities.  On his second trip to  Dimbatty on the hill in 181,9 Sullivan lost no time to have a stone house built in Ooty in a picturesque place surrounded by greenery.  

Stone House built by Sullivan, Ooty.

The workers of first European house were mostly  indigenous hill  tribes - Thodas (who lived in upper Nilgiris)  for John Sullivan. The  house itself set in a 5 acre spread and now the place is called    Kannerimukku where stands a two-story structure  that houses the memorial and Museum.

John Sullivan

The historical "Stone House" on the premises of the Government Arts College in Udhagamandalam, had not been  renovated since it was built. Consequently, many parts  have fallen into disrepair and its dilapidated condition got the attention of the PWD wing. The good news is the  Heritage Wing of the Public Works Department has now taken up the renovation work at an estimated cost of Rs. 8.2 crore. Now the renovation work is underway. 

The renovation work of the Stone House was entrusted to a team of experts from Vellore city.  They have decades of experience  in renovation work related to  colonial structures and heritage buildings.  The renovation work moves slowly because of unpredicting climatic condition on the hill. PWD officials said, “After work commenced, there was no progress for a few months due to heavy rain,” making the the plaster on the walls fall off in pieces.

The crux of the matter is following the age old, traditional construction technique to match the one used in the  colonial time,   the lime plaster made with a blend of kadukkai (gal-nut) and jaggery is to be transported uphill to the site from Coimbatore where the lime mortar is specifically prepared for the renovation.” The official said on the hill fermentation process takes lots of time, so the blend is prepared in Coimbatore  to be transported to Ooty in batches

As for wooden window panels, etc., because of time factor, age and changing climatic conditions, the wood is rotting and has to be replace in many places.  As the college is functioning they can focus on one of the three structures  of the stone house at a time. Anyway, the renovated stone house will be beneficial to the posterity to under the growth of Ooty, then one of the most prominent hill resorts in the British Empire.