Lawrence And Montgomery Halls

Two large Halls for public meetings built by subscription in honour of Sir John (now Lord) Lawrence and Sir Robert Montgomery. Lawrence Hall was built first, in 1861–62, on a site facing Mall Road.

Lawrence Hall was conceived as a social and entertainment space for Lahore’s Euro-pean community. The plan of the building was that of a conventional English banqueting hall, with a rectangular, double-height room on the ground floor surrounded above by a narrow colonnaded gallery on all four sides. Throughout the colonial period in Lahore, Lawrence Hall hosted a range of theatrical and musical performances by both local and traveling troupes. 

Lawrence Hall was devoted to the white community in Lahore; the spaces and program of Montgomery Hall allowed for racial interaction between British civilians and officials and the elites of Lahori society.

Montgomery Hall was completed a few years after Lawrence Hall, in 1866, and served a similar purpose. Unlike the earlier building, however, Montgomery Hall was financed entirely " from subscription from the native cheifs of the punjab. it was almost the finest room in India & used for all the state durbars and Senate meetings, etc. The great ball to the Duke of Edinburgh was in this Hall." Sir John Lawrence was first Chief Commissioner and Lt. Governor of the Punjab (1853-59) and went on to become Viceroy of India. Robert Montgomery was second Lt. Governor of the Punjab (1859-65). 

Montegomery Hall was larger, more complex, and more costly than the Lawrence Hall. The two were placed close to one another and were later joined bay hallway. Rather than forming a frontispiece to Lawrence gardens by facing outward toward Mall Road, however Montgomery Hall faced inward, toward the main avenue of what whould become a large muncipal garden on the grounds surrounding the buildings. In addition to its large central hall, the building housed a library and reading room, a teak dance and "rinking" floor, and room for Gymkhana Club. Larence Hall was devoted to the white community in Lahore; the space and program of Montgomery Hall allowed for racial interaction between British civilians and officals and the elites of the Lahori Society. 

These halls became the centre of festivities for the rulers, particularly during the Christmas and winter months. Christy Minstrels and Professor Williams' endeavors in music, songs and dances made for a 'brighter Lahore', while the group of dwarfs of General and Mrs. Tomb Thumb, Minnie Warren and Commodore Nutt, along with the Star company performed all kinds of conjuring feats. The two-storey edifice, which had been used as Lahore Institute and Lahore Gymkhana Club during the late 1980s, was adapted for re-use as a splendid library—now the Quaid-e-Azam Library. 

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