The Straits Times
Published on Oct 18, 2012

Goodbye to Block 25 Owen Road as demolition beckons

Building that houses Singapore's first post-war flats will be torn down


Singapore's first post-World War II flats will soon become another footnote in history. The squat, two-storey Block 25 Owen Road, built by the Housing Board's predecessor, the Singapore Improvement Trust, is slated to be demolished from next month.

An HDB spokesman said the flats were "no longer offered for letting under the Public Rental Scheme". The last tenant, Ms Mary Pereira, returned her keys on Monday. "It's a building with so much history," said the 70-year-old. "I think it's a real pity they are demolishing it."

Ms Pereira, whose last neighbour moved out in May, said there was a glimmer of hope that the shophouses would be conserved when the HDB re-roofed the entire block with curved, russet clay tiles in the mid-1990s.

She recalled growing up in her two-bedroom flat with her brothers, and later raising her own family there. As well as old-style fixtures such as high ceilings and a spiral staircase linking the second floor to the street level at the back, her home of 65 years had a spacious attic that she transformed from a rat's nest of wires into a plywood-and-linoleum study and storage space.