This is where Kenyans were once required to be registered and issued with identity cards, hence the building’s name
Kipande House is difficult to miss, probably because it stands out like a sore thumb in a city that is mostly made up of shiny modern buildings. The one storey building, situated at the corner of Kenyatta Avenue and Loita Street was completed in 1913. It was designed by Gurdit Singh Nayer, a Pakistan national who arrived in Kenya in 1889.
Kipande House, which is currently occupied by the Kenya Commercial Bank, once served as a warehouse for Indian manual labourers who constructed the Kenya-Uganda Railway.
This historical masterpiece is the location where Kenyans were once required to be registered and issued with identity cards (IDs) kipande in Swahili, hence the name.
It is said to have been Kenya’s tallest building until City Hall came up in 1935.
According to a feature in the Business Daily, the old Uganda Railway line passed parallel to Loita Street, and during World War I, the colonial government leased the building for use as a warehouse. As his contribution to the war effort, Mr Nayer waived payment of any rent during the war years. After the end of the war in 1919, the building reverted to normal office use.
The building was purchased in 1976 by the Kenya Commercial Bank in a rare sale of a property with historical value in Kenya. It had by that time been gazetted as a national monument.
The building is one of the oldest standing structures in Nairobi, featuring smooth dressed blue stone walls with ornate arches to the front façade, an unusual storied tower with majestic lion statues on either side and topped with a dome etched with a rising sun emblem on two sides.