The Watch

Mohammad Ali House

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Did You Know?
The Mohammadali House was constructed around 1900 in Addis Ababa, 14 years after the city's founding, and only eight years after Emperor Menelik II declared it the Ethiopian capital.
A Closer Look

Mohammad Ali House

The Mohammadali House was constructed around 1900 in Addis Ababa, 14 years after the city's founding, and only eight years after Emperor Menelik II declared it the Ethiopian capital. Minas Kherbekian, a well-known Armenian architect from the region, constructed the house to be the headquarters of the powerful trading firm G.M. Mohammadali. The structure echoes the diversity of styles and materials of the buildings surrounding it, exhibiting traces of Indian, Arab, and Ethiopian influences. A comprehensive history of the house was recently published in Milena Batistoni and Gian Paolo Chiari's Old Tracks in the New Flower: A Historical Guide to Addis Ababa.

Addis Ababa remains the capital of Ethiopia. It is also the seat of the African Union and home to many United Nations and international organizations.

Still, political and economic instability in the past few decades have left many buildings in deteriorating condition. The Mohammadali House is one of many buildings in need of repair and restoration, as it has not been occupied or maintained since 1974. It is subject to extreme temperature fluctuations, heavy seasonal rains, and blustering winds in the dry season. Rapid urban development also poses a major threat to historic buildings and sites throughout the city, due to a lack of awareness of their importance, as well as a shortage of funding for restoration, and haphazard city planning. A current construction boom may also threaten a number of historic areas in the city. Last update: 2008

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