The Blue House in Wan Chai is very well-known for its striking colour. But interestingly, it was not always bright blue. That’s just a recent addition to the four storey block that sits at 72-74A Stone Nullah Lane in Wan Chai.
It is one of the very few remaining examples of Tong Lau (here is my post about similar shop houses in Singapore) of the balcony type in Hong Kong and is classified as Grade I historic building.
Originally, on this site stood a hospital, which then was turned into a temple. The original building was demolished and a four storey tenement block was erected in mid 1920s. The building was subsequently used as a martial arts school in the 1950s and as an osteopathy clinic in the 1960s.
In the 1970s the government acquired the building and around the 1990s its outer walls were painted blue. It is said that at this time, this was the only colour available (and it would usually be used by the Water Department…).
What is so special about this building, apart from its colour?
- It is pre-war building that shows architectural characteristics of both Chinese and Western styles
- All the upper floors of Blue House, apart from 72 Stone Nullah Lane, are timber structures. The two wooden stairs, with original elements intact, are well maintained
- There are still residents living inside and some of them have to share the kitchen. There is no flushing toilet facility inside the building!
- The building also houses the Hong Kong House of Stories/Wan Chai Livelihood Museum, where visitors can visit the Blue House’s typical living quarters (open 11am to 6pm daily, except Wednesdays and public holidays, and admission is free)
- The Chamber of Commerce for Fishmonger’s was based on the 4th Floor of 74 Stone Nullah Lane as their meeting place. A set comprising a stone table with two stone benches for playing mahjong by fishmongers is still preserved in-situ on the roof of the building – just waiting for the mahjong players to arrive and start a new game!
There are plans to renovate the building (it is in need of more than just a bit of fresh colour), which include a residential scheme for new and existing tenants, culture and educational programmes, heritage tours, a dessert shop and vegetarian restaurant… but it still remains to be seen what will happen to this very interesting building!