Old Mathews Building (Colombo Fort)

Colombo Old Mathews Building
Colombo Old Mathews Building (Photo credit: Google Street View)

Old Mathews Building (Sinhala: කොළඹ පැරණි මැතිව්ස් ගොඩනැගිල්ල, කැනල් රෝ) is located at No. 23, Canal Row Street in Colombo Fort, Sri Lanka.

In the second half of the 19th century, Messrs. C. Mathew & Co. was the leading local firm that engaged in the business of ship chandlers and stevedores at the port of Colombo (Wright, 1999). This business was established near the British India Hotel in Colombo Fort by Bastian but later it came into the possession of the Mathew family (Wright, 1999). After the death of C. Mathew in 1892, his son C.J. Mathew took over the business in Canal Row where the present building of the firm was built in 1896 (Sujata, 2020; Wright, 1999).

The rectangular-shaped building consists of a basement and two stories separated by a wooden floor (Manathunga, 2016). The main entrance is positioned towards the southern direction and a small balcony has been built above the entrance door (Sujata, 2020). There are eight arched windows on the front side of the building while another 17 windows are on the west side wall. The company's logo which contains the figures of a ship, two coconut trees and an elephant is carved on the short wall at the roof level of the building (Sujata, 2020).

Presently, this building has been designated as an archaeological protected monument by the government through the gazette notification published on 27 August 1999.

1) Manathunga, S. B., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-39-9. p.34.
2) Sujata, D. A., 2020. Aithihasika Kolamba Kotuwe Puravidya Smaraka [(Archaeological monuments of historic Colombo Fort) In Sinhala]. Department of Archaeology. Ministry of Cultural Affairs. ISBN: 978-955-7457-26-0. pp.106-107.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1095. 27 August 1999.
4) Wright, A. ed., 1999. Twentieth Century Impressions of Ceylon: Its History, People, Commerce, Industries, and Resources (first published in 1907). Asian Educational Services. pp.458-459.

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This page was last updated on 3 December 2023

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