Apart from reviving the former look of Masina Hospital at Byculla, the plan to restore the city’s oldest private hospital is likely to include an exhibition gallery dedicated to the history of the Jewish heritage in the city. In order to raise 22 crores needed for the restoration, the hospital administration will soon set up a committee, which will comprise industrialists, historians and philanthropists, who can use their resources to help gather funds.
The main building of Masina Hospital was formerly known as Sans Souci, which was the residence of David Sassoon, a leader of the Jewish community in 19th- century Bombay. Built in 1854, the palace and the six-acre land it stands on was gifted to Parsi doctor Hormasji Manekji Masina in 1912. Initially, it served as a private hospital, but in 1952, was converted into a charitable trust hospital.
A member of the hospital administration said, “ Even though repairs of the main building have been carried out from time to time, compromises were made on the materials used, due to shortage of funds.” In order to restore the whole structure properly, conservation architect Vikas Dilawari was appointed earlier this year to draw up a plan for the repairs and refurbishment works that needed to be carried out.
Based on the plan, the restoration work will be carried out in three phases, which includes restoration of the external facade, repairs of the internal area and restoration of the original tiled roof. Dr Vispi Jokhi, Medical Director, Masina Hospital, pointed out that the 116-year-old hospital is among the few Jewish properties that have been left intact. “ We are planning to have an exhibition gallery in the building, which can help people from the Jewish community and tourists know about their heritage.” He added that there are plans to include Masina Hospital as a part of heritage walks involving Jewish culture.
The restoration committee will have around 15- 20 members; the hospital is in the process of sending out invites. Ralphy Jhirad, president and managing trustee of Bene Israel Heritage Museum and Genealogical Research Centre, also one of the members on the committee, said invitations will be sent out to personalities such as Pheroza Godrej ( former chairperson of the National Gallery of Modern Art), businessman Cyrus Gazder and Anu Aga ( former head of Thermax), among others. “ The restoration of the building is important for the larger interest of the community.
There are plans to invite Bank of India since it was started by Sassoon David, son of David Sassoon, who was interested in banking. We will also send a formal request to the Jewish World Monument Fund, a New York-based foundation that helps in restoration of structures important to Jewish heritage.” The committee will also include authors and historians who have conducted research on the Sassoon family, including Dr Saul Shapir, a Jerusalem-based scholar. Once the committee has been formed, funds will be gathered through digital outreach and events.