The Fairlawn building had existed on this site since 1783. It was built by a European, Mr. William Ford who purchased the land from Sheikh Ramjan and Bhonay on the 27th of May, 1781. The street was originally named after Ford. However, the current name was adopted many years later when a Sadar Court (pronounced Sudder) was built. A Sadar Court is a local court of appeal.
The building was constructed shortly after the land was purchased and this we know from the deeds which state that a “Pukka” building had been built by Mr. Ford. The word Pukka (proper) denotes that it was built of bricks. Bengalis were only allowed to build from coconut palm and mud by the ruling Nawabs.
Since then, the possession of the building has followed the following succession :
1801 – Mr. George Chisholm (died in residence)
1812 – Captain Sir James Mount and Sir George Mount
1840 – The Chisholm family
1873 – Sir David Ezra
1900 – Miss Clarke and Miss Barrett
1936 – Mrs. Rosie Sarkies
1962 – Mr. Ted and Mrs. Violet Smith (nee Sarkies & Mrs. Jennifer Fowler)
1969 – Mr. Ted and Violet Smith (nee Sarkies)
1997 – Mrs. Violet Smith & Mrs. Jennifer Fowler
2005 – Mrs. Jennifer Ann Fowler
2018 – Elgin Hotels & Resorts
Not much is known about the Chisholms. However, the Mounts were a seafaring family. They were allegedly involved in smuggling opium and textiles with China. Many British Earls and Viscounts can trace their beginnings to this kind of activity. Job (pronounced Jobe) Charnock once said that “it will always be possible for a man to make his fortune in Calcutta” and many did. During the Second World War, it was requisitioned for Canadian Airforce personnel. For two years it was known as “Canada House”. During this time it served as a family quarter of an Airforce Major Melvyn Douglas.
In 1994, the ownership of the hotel was converted into a Private Limited company with Ted and Violet Smith as Directors. Sadly, Ted died at the age of 83 years in November 2002. Violet Smith also passed away in September 2014 at the age of 93. Then her daughter, Mrs. Jennifer Fowler took care of the hotel operations. She used to stay in Kolkata for several months along with her husband, John. In February 2018 the hotel became a part of The Elgin Hotels & Resorts Group.