This imposing building constructed more than 150 years ago was the grand residence of a wealthy clan member of the Gounder community of Kulukkappara, who first came to settle in these parts more than two centuries ago as feudatories under the royal house of Kollengode. Namasivaya Gounder - the grandson of Raghunatha Gounder and forbear of the clan - was the original builder and first occupant of this stately house that was completed in 1865. He was among a very few then who had the means to live an extravagant life as befitted his standing as a wealthy landlord of this region in pre-independent India.
The house, unique for that time, reveals a distinctive colonial face on the outside with prominent pillars, arches and a grand elevated sloping tile roof. The inside of the house was defined by the daily needs and agricultural lifestyle of the Gounders - with minimal rooms and large undefined spaces for storing grains, implements and various household items.
Murali Gounder - the great grandson of Namasivaya Gounder and the last generation to have lived in the house before it changed hands - tells us that the plans for the house were prepared by a master builder who had overseen the construction of similar colonial style mansions for the wealthy landed class of that time in Kerala.
It is claimed that, over the course of the three generations who inherited it, the house underwent minimal repairs owing to the quality of the materials used in its construction and the craftsmanship employed. This technology was very advanced for those times in its conception and understanding of materials - as seen in the use of egg white (albumin) as a surface primer to obtain smoothness and offer protection against moisture.
In 1982, owing to declining fortunes in the family, the ancestral house was sold by Ganapathy Swamy Gounder - the great grandson of Namsivaya Gounder and father of Murali Gounder -to a business family from Trichur in Kerala. This was the first time the house had moved to individuals outside the Gounder community. It also signalled the end of an era in the socio- cultural and economic milieu of this region. It was a history that was shaped largely by the dynamics and politics of a feudal agrarian system that came to an end with Indian independence and the coming of a socialist political order in the state of Kerala soon thereafter.
From the time of its sale (in 1982) to its new owners the house was seldom occupied and was slowly beginning to deteriorate. It was at this point (in 2004) that it was acquired by Thomas Chakola who later gifted it to his younger brother Joseph. It was to change the course of Joseph’s life in remarkable ways.