Friday, December 25, 2009

Loke Yew Mansion

Smack in the bustling part of Jalan Medan Tuanku, stands one of the grandest residential buildings in its heyday, the Loke Yew Mansion. In fact, the late nineteenth century mansion is the oldest standing residential brick and plaster building in Kuala Lumpur.

It was a quiet Sunday when we visited and the guard let us into the grounds. Many years ago, it was in a sorry dilapidated state but not anymore as the mansion has been partially restored in late 2007 by the law firm Cheang & Ariff who leased the property from its owners.

Loke Mansion belonged to
Towkay Loke Yew, a multi millionaire who was one of the pioneers of Kuala Lumpur. It was originally set in 11 acres of landscaped gardens which included ornamental lake and rubber and coconut palm groves.

Loke Yew's descendants lived in the mansion until the 1930s. Today, the mansion and the grounds are all that is left of the sprawling Loke Yew estate.

The architecture represents a blend of Oriental and European styles ranging from the Renaissance arcades and other classical details to a Chinese style entry gate and round moon gate.

Original entrance of the mansion - the Painted Gate

The Malay Mail in 1904 gave news of great expectancy of the Loke mansion:

'One of the most palatial residences in the town. Nothing but Cengal timber has been used for the floors, doors, posts etc whilst both the upper and lower verandahs are paved with specially imported Chinese tiles.'

During World War 2 the mansion served as the head quarters of the Japanese Occupation forces. During the Emergency of 1948, it was the training school for the Police, CID and Special Branch. Later it housed an art gallery and music conservatory and fell vacant again in 2000.

Towkay Loke Yew:

Loke Yew was born In Guangdong Province in 1845. Though wealthy, he was not ostentatious in his habits. He was a thrifty man who found his fortunes in tin -mining when he came to Malaya.

Loke Yew bought the house from a tin miner, Cheow Ah Yook and he took 12 years to renovate the mansion.

Loke Yew was also a philantropist, industrialist, planter and leader of the Chinese community. As a philantropist, he was remembered for giving rice to the poor during World War 1. He co-founded Victoria Institution, one of Malaysia's premier educational institutions. In tribute to his vast contributions to society, a street name, Jalan LokeYew in Kuala Lumpur is named after him.

Loke Yew died on 24 February,1917 in Kuala Lumpur from malaria.

Loke Yew Mansion stands testimony to the industriousness of the early pioneers of KL. As such, it is a tangible landmark in the history and development of the city.

What remains is a fine example of attempts to preserve and restore grand old buildings to be a part of the local heritage around KL. This is important as it is a visible link to our past. The fact that it is being used, it preserves evidence of the cultural and social history of its past glory.

Didn't our hearts cry when the walls of the Bok House tumbled down due to demolition? When a grand old dame of a nation passes away, we mourn. We accorded the same to the Bok House.

Thus I say we can take charge and give our gift to posterity if we can save our heritage. Take a few moments and stand back to view the mansion. There once lived a great pioner, a true son of KL whose legacy needs to live.

Loke Yew Mansion
273A, Jalan Medan Tuanku
50300 Kuala Lumpur


  1. The Loke Yew mansion is worth all the 'look' and thanks for the entry and the insight of the mansion and the history. TQ

  2. Love the round moon gate, dreaming and wishing to have one, whoa nice lotus plants at both sides of the entrance - the Painted Gate, and I wonder why such a size door would be expecting a two gigantic doors? haha. Merry Xmas!

  3. What an in depth look at our history. I especially liked the lion statue and how it has withstand the test of time.

    And the Malay Mail, what has actually happened to it!!

    Amazing, simply amazing.

    P/S They have not allowed voting so I'll be back later. And I did vote your last post even though I did not leave message. Just want you to know that I may do the same in future posts.

  4. Sunshine girl, this is a story well told. Definitely a building worth preserving. Nevertheless, I hope to view it soon, and to teach my kids about our national herritage. As usual, you can count on my support for you. Happy Holidays!

  5. Hi
    Bananaz, i'm really glad you like the entry on this mansion. In our midst, we tend to forget the treasures we have.

    Ocean Girl, am truly grateful you're voting for me and supporting my posts.

    Autumn Belle, do visit the mansion. I'm told a special visit can be arranged with the law firm to view the inside. Do contact them and get an even better history of the grand mansion. Thanks v. much for your kind support.

    Wenn, thanks and do vist again and again:)) Happy hols !

    CheaHS@n, thanks and am glad you like it.

  6. Thanks for this post, Keats! I just passed by the building again last week and was very pleased to see how well-maintained it looks now. It was in quite a sorry state in 2006, when I was working in the area. Our country really must try harder to preserve and restore our heritage buildings. We only even mourn our loss when it's already irretrievably gone.


Great to have you popping in!