Robert Chisholm (architect)

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Robert Fellowes Chisholm (11 January 1840 - 28 May 1915) was a British architect who pioneered the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture in Madras.

Early life[edit]

Chisholm was born in London on 11 January 1840 (or on 3 November 1838, according to the Royal Institute of British Architects), and had his early education in the United Kingdom, practising as a talented landscape painter in London during his youth. On completion of his education, he arrived at Calcutta, India and moved to Madras in 1865, where he was appointed head of the school of industrial art.


In that same year, 1865, Chisholm began to design the older building of Presidency College, Madras. He initially constructed buildings in the Renaissance and Gothic styles of architecture.[1] Also in 1865-67 he was designing the Nilgiri Library in Ootacamund (completed in 1869), and the Lawrence Memorial School in that same town (1865-69). The revenue board building in the Chepauk Palace complex, which was constructed by Chisholm in 1871,[2] was his first in the Indo-Saracenic or Muslim style of architecture.[3][4] Chisholm later emerged as a pioneer in the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture.[5][6]

Chisholm also constructed the Lawrence Asylum buildings (1865), Napier Museum Trivandrum,[7] Presidency College, Madras (1865–70) the Senate buildings of the University of Madras (1874–79),[5][6][8] offices of the P. Orr & Sons[9] and the Post and Telegraph Office in Ootacamund (1875–83). Chisholm also enlarged and constructed a pavilion at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium.[10] Chisholm was appointed Consulting Architect to the Government of Madras in 1872 and served from 1872 to 1886.[11] He was also responsible for the Bombay Municipal Offices and the immense Lakshmi Vilas palace in Baroda (Vadodara) during 1880-90. He returned to London in 1902, where his best-known London building is the Cadogan Hall near Sloane Square. He also designed the Church of Christ Scientist in Chelsea.


Chisholm died on 28 May 1915 at Southsea at the age of about 75.


  1. ^ K. Placzek, Adolf (1982). Macmillan encyclopedia of architects, Volume 1. Free Press. p. 415. ISBN 0029250005, ISBN 978-0-02-925000-6. 
  2. ^ Muthiah, pp 166-168
  3. ^ Chopra, Preeti (2011). A Joint Enterprise: Indian Elites and the Making of British Bombay. University of Minnesota Press. p. 44. ISBN 0816670374, ISBN 978-0-8166-7037-6. 
  4. ^ Morley, Ian (2008). British provincial civic design and the building of late-Victorian and Edwardian cities, 1880-1914. Edwin Mellen Press. p. 278. 
  5. ^ a b Abram, David; Edwards, Nick (2003). The Rough Guide to South India. Rough Guides. p. 421. ISBN 1843531038, ISBN 978-1-84353-103-6. 
  6. ^ a b Jeyaraj, George J. "Indo-Saracenic Architecture in Chennai" (PDF). Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority. 
  7. ^ Anand, G. (30 September 2011). "Museum band stand mayecho martial music again". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 
  8. ^ Muthiah, S. (3 September 2006). "Magnificience Restored". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 
  9. ^ Muthiah, p 62
  10. ^ Muthiah, p 170
  11. ^ Muthiah, p 155