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Building names and the interesting tales they tell

Jeevanjee Gardens

The grounds were named after Mr A M Jeevanjee, a pioneer member of the municipal committee of Nairobi. Prior to its renaming, the ground was known as Victoria Gardens and the Duke and Duchess of Connaught unveiled a statue of Queen Victoria, which still stands at the gardens.

The ground is currently under the management of the Nairobi County government.

Kipande House 

Kipande House used to be a railway depot, with a tower on its facade. The Africans working for the colonial masters in Nairobi used to come to this historic building to be registered and then get issued with identification cards.

That is how it got its name. The architecture was unique and timeless, and the current tenants — KCB Kenyatta Avenue Branch, have maintained its architecture to date.

Torr House

The bright red brick building, that currently houses CFC Stanbic Bank. Then known as Torr House. It is claimed to have been Nairobi’s first brick building to be put up in 1910 by Ewart Scott Grogan, one of Kenya’s eccentric pioneers.

It was later sold to Joe Torr, who named it the Torr Hotel. In 1956, he sold it to the Ottoman Bank, which was nationalised in 1972 and named Grindlays and acquired by Stanbic in 1992.

Khoja Mosque

The foundation stone of this building was laid onJanuary 14, 1920 by the then Acting Governor Sir Charles Bowring. This mosque was built through donations presented to the Aga Khan.

Virjee Nanji was the architect behind its design and the stone contractor was Mohammed Butta. In 1922 Sir Edward Northey the then Governor officiated its opening ceremony. The sole owner and proprietor of that property was the Aga Khan.

Cameo Cinema

It was quite convenient to have a good lunch at the Torr Hotel, then walk into Theatre Royal for a movie. Built in 1912 as Theatre Royal, this building was one of the famous theatre houses in the 1960s.

In the early 90s it changed names to Cameo Cinema and later changed into a congregational hall at the ground floor and as a Veranda bar and restaurant. Currently it has been turned into a casino.

Kenya National Archives

The Kenya National Archives that sits between Moi Avenue and Tom Mboya Street was initially built as the National Bank of India, with a commanding positioning at the heart of the city.

The Old Nairobi Bus Station was opposite the current National Archives and later the Hilton Hotel was built on the land that housed the bus station, with the latter being moved to its present day address.