In 1900, Motilal Nehru then a prominent lawyer bought a palatial residence at 1 Church Road, Allahabad, for a sum of 19,000 Rupees. The house had been standing tall in a dilapidated condition but the estate was huge. And extensive renovation work was carried out over the next decade to make the mansion worth staying. As a lawyer Motilal visited Europe and as farsighted he was he used his frequent visits to Europe to buy the choicest furniture and china. He turned the mansion into a veritable palace, 'an elaborate replica of an English country estate bifurcated between east and west', with a retinue of almost a hundred people in the house. Motilal called the house Anand Bhavan.
Swaraj Bhawan however has previous history and originally belonged to Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the 19th century Muslim leader and educationist. At the house-warming party, Sir William Moor nourished the notion that this large palatial home in Civil Lines of Allahabad would become the cement holding together the British Empire in India. Paradoxically, the house was bought by Motilal Nehru in 1900, and went on to become a cradle to the Indian Freedom Struggle which had its holy mission set to destroy British rule in India.
Motilal Nehru was a prominent member of the Indian National Congress Party. Due to this, lot of noted leaders and party activists would visit the "Nehru House". Following the rise of Motilal's son, Jawaharlal Nehru, the mansion virtually became the centre of the Indian independence movement. It was informally the headquarters of the All India Congress Committee in the 1920s before it was donated by Motilal Nehru to the Indian National Congress in 1930, to serve as the party's official headquarters in the region. The Nehrus built another house next to the old one and named that Anand Bhavan; the old house was renamed Swaraj Bhavan. Some sources claim that the name Anand Bhawan was coined by the poet Akbar Allahabadi Indira Gandhi, India's former Prime Minister, donated Anand Bhavan to the nation in 1970 and turned it into a museum housing the books and memorabilia of her father and grandfather. Its pillared Verandahs and high-ceilinged rooms have witnessed many trysts with destiny; some are known and documented by historians of modern India, others known only to its inmates who are no more. Now, the Swaraj Bhavan premise conducts classes to teach arts and crafts to children. A light and sound programme is also duly organized here. There are four shows every day.