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Cairnhill Road No. 42

History
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ABOUT

This is a stunning white-painted house at the junction of Cairnhill Road and Cairnhill Circle.

THE HISTORY

The residence was built in 1926 for Mr Tan Kah Kee, one of the best-known Overseas Chinese in the world. He was known for his huge rubber enterprises, his philanthropy and promotion of education, and his industrial and relief activities.

However, in 1929, in order to obtain funds for the Xiamen (Amoy) University which he had founded back in his home province, Tan Kah Kee had to sell his house when the whole economy was in crisis and the price of rubber plunged. In 1939, the house was purchased by the late Tan Sri Tan Chin Tuan, a prominent banker and philanthropist (Chairman of OCBC since 1973 and other major local companies like Fraser & Neave Ltd and Great Eastern Life Assurance Co. Ltd), and was used as a private residence by the Tan family for decades.

THE BUILDING

It is a grand Victorian house built in 1926 by Chung & Wong, a reputed firm credited with many fine houses with outstanding architectural qualities. The building facades are unique in their design, with rich ornamentation and detailing. One of the most recognizable features of the house must be the tower with its characteristic bell-shaped turret. This was a feature for a number of highly prominent and beautiful bungalows back then. Eu Villa and the House of Jade are two such examples. Unfortunately, most of them have been demolished through the years and this is one of the last few left in Singapore.

Internally, the house has finely detailed teak doors and panelling, while the floors feature Art-Noveau inspired terrazzo tiles. The ceiling of the room above the porch features beautifully crafted plaster cornice work.

THE LEGACY

Today, the bungalow (newly-known as ‘The Tan Chin Tuan Mansion’) has been beautifully restored as a clubhouse serving the twenty-storey residential development that cantilevers overhead, as well as serving as a memorial to its late owner.

It received a URA Architectural Heritage Award in 2008 for its successful integration of old and new. The resplendent white building still remains a landmark along Cairnhill Circle.

Gazetted on 19 May 2003 for conservation

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