The 132-year-old Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Parsee Charitable Institution (BJPCI), a historical landmark and one of the city’s last remaining structures built in the Gothic architectural style, has been restored to its former grandeur under the guidance of conservation architect Vikas Dilawari. The restoration was supported by Virtusa Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Virtusa Corporation – an IT company. The school faced damage by cyclone, leakage, and corrosion due to its proximity to the sea. An expert architect was needed to ensure minimum intervention.
The special occasion also marked the unveiling of the coffee table book, ‘Unwrapping The Story of a Landmark Restoration’ by the BJPCI Trustees alongside leading officials of Virtusa Corp. Ar. Dilawari shared that the front façade – an imposing and symmetrical structure with a central bay gable pediment crowned by a statue of Athena – represented the goddess of learning. The restoration of this historic building began in the 1990s and continued in 2000 and 2010, focusing on different aspects each time, including the restoration of the Athena statue and interiors. This most recent, and major, restoration project included structural repairs in localised areas, including classrooms and passages, along with comprehensive repairs to the front facade and the rear main staircase blocks. Virtually all common areas and the entire second floor, including the halls, were part of the current refurbishment.
This architectural masterpiece stands as a cornerstone of the city’s rich heritage and was the recipient of The Urban Heritage Award in 1993 for being the ‘Best Preserved Monumental Building’. School principal, Daisy Zohrabi looks forward to introducing a playgroup and making BJPCI a one-stop academic solution for students all through degree college. Trustee Rustom reconfirmed his commitment to perpetuating the legacy of his ancestors and is planning to submit the building for consideration as a UNESCO Heritage award entry.
Located opposite Mumbai’s Charni Road station, the BJPCI school was designed by Khan Bahadur Muncherji C. Murzban, an unsung native architect of Bombay. Commissioned by Byramjee Jeejeebhoy, the institution’s founder, BJPCI was established in 1890, and stands out for its distinctive teakwood screens and coloured glass, exemplifying the Gothic Revival style, as a landmark Grade II B heritage building.
After its formal inauguration in September 1891, BJPCI offered primary and middle school sections exclusively to Parsi boys. Over the years, it evolved and eventually became co-educational in 1972, while junior college divisions for commerce and science were introduced in 1975 and 1978, respectively. In 1985, the institution began accepting students of all religions. It currently accommodates approximately 1,500 students across morning, afternoon and evening sessions.