David Sassoon Library
David Sassoon Library (May 2023)
LocationMumbai, Maharashtra, India
Coordinates18°55′40″N 72°49′52″E / 18.92772°N 72.83116°E / 18.92772; 72.83116
AreaFort, Mumbai
ArchitectJ. Campbell and G. E. Gosling
Architectural style(s)Gothic Revival, Venetian Gothic
David Sassoon Library is located in Mumbai
David Sassoon Library
Location of David Sassoon Library in Mumbai
David Sassoon Library is located in India
David Sassoon Library
David Sassoon Library (India)

The David Sassoon Library and Reading Room is a famous library and heritage structure in Mumbai, India. The idea for a library to be situated in the center of the city came from Albert Sassoon, son of the famous Baghdadi Jewish philanthropist, David Sassoon.[1]


In 1847, European employees working in the Government Mint and the Dockyard in Mumbai started the Mechanics' Institution to provide technical education to adults and to hold lectures. Initially, they operated from leased premises until they relocated to their own facility, which was made possible by the support of David Sassoon. Later, the establishment was named the David Sassoon Library and Reading Room.[2]

The structure, built in the architectural style of Victorian Neogothic during the period from 1867 to 1870, maintains its original colonial allure. It features pointed arches, columns adorned with animal motifs, and intricately designed trusses and ceilings made of Burma teak wood. Now a Grade I heritage structure, the library's building is among the earliest constructions in the vicinity following the removal of the fort walls in the 1860s.[3]

Historical images

The building was designed by architects J. Campbell and G. E. Gosling, for Scott McClelland and Company, at a cost of Rs. 125,000. David Sassoon donated Rs. 60,000, while the rest of the cost was borne by the Government of Bombay Presidency.[4] The library is located on Rampart Row, looking across Kala Ghoda. The building, completed in 1870, is built using yellow Malad stone, much like the abutting Elphinstone College, Army and Navy Buildings, and Watson's Hotel. Above the entrance portico is a white stone bust of David Sassoon. This marble bust was Thomas Woolner's working model for the statue of Sassoon standing at the front of the stairs of the David Sassoon Library. This standing marble statue, completed in 1865, was commissioned by Sir Bartle Frere, Governor of Bombay and personal friend of the sculptor, Woolner. Subscriptions came from the Jewish community, a myriad of traders, and friends in England.[5]


In 2023, the JSW Foundation and the ICICI Foundation worked together on the restoration of this library. Sangita Jindal, the Chairperson of the JSW Foundation, partnered with Abha Narain Lambah, a conservation architect in India, to oversee the execution of the restoration project.[6] In order to raise funds, they collaborated with various organisations, including Hermès India, the Kala Ghoda Association, the Consulate General of Israel in Mumbai, the MK Tata Trusts, and several others. This collaboration transformed the project into a multiparty initiative, involving multiple stakeholders working together to contribute financially.[7]

Pre-restoration images

Given the architectural importance of the building, Lambah's team extensively relied on archival research and documentation. Every new element introduced, such as the metal chandeliers, was carefully modeled after its 19th-century counterpart to seamlessly integrate with the building's style. Significantly, her team reinstated the original sloping roof, replacing a reinforced concrete slab that had been added insensitively after the 1960s. This flat slab had caused significant damage due to leakage, affecting both the structure itself and the books housed within it.[7]

Post-restoration images

See also


  1. ^ Sneeha Nair (17 January 2011), "Let Colaba Charm you", Hindustan Times; Retrieved on 25 January 2011.
  2. ^ Māḍagã̄vakara, Govinda Nārāyaṇa (2009). Govind Narayan's Mumbai: An Urban Biography from 1863. Anthem Press. ISBN 978-1-84331-305-2. Archived from the original on 15 July 2023. Retrieved 24 July 2023.
  3. ^ Mansabdar, Amey. "The history of David Sassoon Library is the history of Bombay". The Week. Archived from the original on 15 July 2023. Retrieved 15 July 2023.
  4. ^ TIFR Mumbai pages Archived 7 August 2020 at the Wayback Machine sourced from article by Kaumudi Marathe of Times of India, 12 November 1995.
  5. ^ Steggles, Mary Ann; Barnes, Richard (2011). British Sculpture in India: New Views and Old Memories. Norfolk: Frontier. p. 206. ISBN 978-1-872914-41-1.
  6. ^ "David Sassoon Library opens to public after restoration; see pics". The Indian Express. 3 June 2023. Archived from the original on 13 June 2023. Retrieved 6 June 2023.
  7. ^ a b Deodhar, Neerja (6 July 2023). "The Gothic revival of Mumbai's iconic David Sassoon Library". Architectural Digest India. Archived from the original on 15 July 2023. Retrieved 15 July 2023.

18°55′41″N 72°49′52″E / 18.927976°N 72.831105°E / 18.927976; 72.831105