Fort and Pettah are our favorite parts of the city.
To help people re-familiarize themselves with Colombo’s long-neglected center we’ll be posting a selection of the area’s major landamarks.
Here are two beautiful buildings that could do with being remembered.
Cargills Milllers Building
This is one of the Fort’s major landmarks. On the corner of York Street and Prince’s Street the distinctive deep red structure with its columned arcade and elaborate plasterwork was built in 1906. For decades it served as Colombo’s pre-eminent department store stocking everything from beluga caviar and the finest European cheese to Chinese Fireworks and Japanese toys. Just about every Colombar grandparent paid several visits to this enormous emporium in its heyday. Even this fine premise though wilted away during the war. While the Cargills chain flourished what should have been their flagship housed nothing but an under-stocked supermarket and a KFC. New plans however will see the building become a Raffles(of Singapore fame) Hotel. The Cargills and Raffles groups have apparently reached an agreement though no plans on the number of rooms, completion date or the extent of the investment are yet available.
Sir Baron Jayathilake Mawatha
That’s right not the YMCA, that’s next door, but the Young Men’s Buddhist Association. In a bold and unique neo-Lankan concrete-modernist style with a beautiful Art-Deco staircase and a Kandyan roofed observatory this is one of the most striking buildings in Fort. While the Buddhist Association still functions much of the building currently houses shipping and customs clearing agent’s offices. A hastily converted corner office with amazing port and Fort views goes for just Rs 9000 a month!. This is one the few buildings in Fort that is entirely open to the public, just wander in and head up the staircase to reach the observatory section.