Pakistan is the place where many of old buildings that were built in Mughal era and British Raj can be found. During British Raj at subcontinent, British Government built many buildings and frère Hall is one of those buildings that still exist in Karachi in Sindh Province. This building was built in the honor of Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere. He was the person who promoted the economic developments in Karachi. He was appointed as chief commissioner of Sindh in 1850.
Frere Hall is situated between Abdullah Haroon Road that previously was known as Victoria Road and the Fatima Jinnah Road that previously was known as Bonus Road right in the middle of two lawns that are extended until the roads. In the town, Hall is located in the Civil Lines locality. Marriot Hotel, US Consul General’s house, Sind Club and Japanese Consulate is located in the surrounding of the Hall.
During the British Raj, it was used as Town Hall. A number of busts during the same period were housed here including King Edward VII’s that was gifted by one of the foremost philanthropist named Seth Edulji Dinshaw. Oil paintings of former commissioners of Sindh are also kept here including Sir Evan James and Sir Charles Pritchard. There are two gardens around the Hall that were originally named as “Queen’s lawn” and “King’s lawn” that were renamed after the independence of Pakistan as Baghgh-e-Jinnah (Jinnah Gardens).
Construction of Frere Hall was started in 1863. Before construction, twelve designs were submitted and among all one was chosen by Lt. Col St. Clair Wilson. It took two years to construct the Hall and in 1865, it was opened by the Commissioner of Sind, Samuel Mansfield. Rs 180,000 was the total amount that was spent on the construction of this Hall out of which Rs. 10,000 were paid by the Government and rest was paid by the municipality. Hall was designed in the Venetian Gothic style and yellowish limestone of Karachi and from Jungshahi, red and gray sandstone were used in the construction.
The Frere Hall’s park was closed for the public few years ago after a terrorist attack on US consulate that faces the Frere Hall. After relocating the US consulate, in 2011 the park again was announced to be open for the public. A book bazaar in the courtyards of the Hall is held on Sundays from where one can purchase books and many of old and out of print books can also be found here.