Victoria St landmark added to conserved building list

The 104-year-old Parochial House is an example of traditional Portuguese baroque style with distinctive features such as pointed Gothic arches and pinnacles with crockets - a hook-shaped decoration - adorning the roof.
The 104-year-old Parochial House is an example of traditional Portuguese baroque style with distinctive features such as pointed Gothic arches and pinnacles with crockets - a hook-shaped decoration - adorning the roof. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Parochial House of St Joseph's Church was once headquarters of Portuguese Mission

A 104-year-old church building in Victoria Street, which once served as the headquarters of the Portuguese Mission in Singapore, is the latest addition to the list of conserved buildings here.

The three-storey Parochial House of St Joseph's Church, which now houses the church offices and the lodgings of its rector, will be gazetted for conservation by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

Speaking at the church's celebration yesterday to mark the milestone, Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for National Development, said: "(The Parochial House) is a building that fully deserves its conservation status. It's also a good complement to the main church building which is, in itself, a national monument.

"The House has stood in Singapore for close to 104 years... It has survived the Second World War and three generations, still going strong, marking its importance as a landmark in Singapore's history."

He also noted the building style of the Parochial House, which is an example of traditional Portuguese baroque style, with distinctive features such as pointed Gothic arches and pinnacles with crockets - a hook-shaped decoration - adorning the roof.

It also contains nine sets of Portuguese-style painted ceramic tiles that can be found in palaces, churches and important public buildings in Portugal.

Father Alex Chua, Rector of St Joseph's Church, said: "It is an honour for the church to have its Parochial House recognised and conserved for its architectural, historical and social heritage.

"We hope that this gazette will help reinforce the sense of heritage for future generations of Singapore Catholics and non-Catholics alike."

Father Ignatius Yeo, the church's former rector, said it hopes to make the Parochial House more open to the public in the future. For a start, there will be three guided tours for the public from noon to 2pm tomorrow.

Father Yeo said the church is exploring possibilities such as setting up a permanent gallery that showcases the history of the church. It also hopes to open an eatery which can employ people with disabilities.

Mr Kelvin Ang, director of conservation management at URA, said the past four decades in Singapore have seen a shift in the perception of heritage.

"Society now recognises that heritage is a valuable asset, a valuable resource, and therefore investing in heritage gives you many positive outcomes beyond the material."

Close to 7,200 buildings here have been conserved since the start of URA's Conservation Programme in 1989.

Beyond preserving their facades, these buildings must retain their original structural and architectural elements.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2016, with the headline 'Victoria St landmark added to conserved building list'. Print Edition | Subscribe