Coleman's house razed for shopping centre

The house that G.D. Coleman built on the street that was named after him was demolished in December 1965 to make way for a planned shopping centre.

No. 3, Coleman Street was built in 1829, just 10 years after the founding of Singapore by Sir Stamford Raffles.

Coleman, an Irish architect and later Singapore's First Superintendent of Public Works, played a key role in colonial Singapore's urbanisation and designed buildings like the Armenian church in Hill Street.

He lived in the house that he built for only two years and died of illness in Singapore in 1844. It was leased to Singapore's first photographer, Gaston Dutronquoy, and turned into a hotel called the London Hotel.

A part of the hotel was later turned into a theatre and the building was converted into a succession of different hotels and boarding houses. They included the Hotel de la Paix, whose bar was said to be frequented by sailor-author Joseph Conrad during his visits here.

In 1965, Coleman's former residence housed about 1,000 people. It had shops at the front for society women, while in the back, crowded families lived in slum-like conditions.

"In this commercial centre of South-east Asia, shopping facilities are obviously regarded as more important to the tourist than a mere historic landmark," one resident said.

The Peninsula Hotel and Shopping Centre, which took over the site, was completed in 1971.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 29, 2015, with the headline 'Coleman's house razed for shopping centre'. Print Edition | Subscribe