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Kongsoon House, Beach Street, George Town, Penang

Kongsoon House, at the junction between Beach Street and Church Street in the heart of George Town, now serves as part of OCBC's Premier Banking Complex.

Kongsoon House at the junction between Beach Street and Church Street, within George Town's UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a three-storey colonial-era commercial building. It is now owned by the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), the largest Singaporean bank and among the strongest banks in the world.

Built in 1914, it initially housed Goh Taik Chee & Co., which imported heavy machinery for the then-booming tin industry in British Malaya. It was also here where the Oversea-Chinese Bank, a predecessor of OCBC, opened its first Penang branch in 1920.

This imposing corner building has remarkably retained its colonial style features, such as projecting balconies, parapets and cornices. The past tenants of this building had managed to preserve these features over the decades.

It now serves as part of OCBC's Premier Banking Complex, which also includes the adjacent 1886 Building and OCBC Building.

History

Kongsoon House, Beach Street, George Town, Penang (2)

A closer look at Kongsoon House's Beach Street façade, which features cornices, parapets and glass windows with cast steel stalks.

Kongsoon House was built in 1914 for Goh Taik Chee & Co., a wholesale store and chandler which also imported engineering, mining and industrial machines for the tin industry in the neighbouring Sultanate of Perak.

Mr. Goh, a successful businessman, was notable for heading the Chinese Anti-Opium Association, at a time when there were an estimated 20,000 opium smokers in George Town. His other philanthropic deeds include his involvement in the reconstruction of the Tua Pek Kong Temple at Tanjung Tokong suburb and dealing with food shortages in George Town during the height of World War 1.

The building was built with cornices and parapets all around its façade, as well as glass pane windows and cast iron stalks along its ground floor. Its Church Street side comes with an entrance at its centre, with pediments shouldering the projected balconies on the upper floors. The building was also painted yellow.

In 1920, the Oversea-Chinese Bank, which would later be amalgamated into the present-day Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), first opened a branch within the Kongsoon House. At the time, it was still being used by Goh Taik Chee & Co., which by then had begun distributing Triumph motorcycles. The following year, the Oversea-Chinese Bank branch moved to the adjacent 1886 Building.

Between the mid-1930s and the late 1990s, the building was taken over by Kee Huat Radio Co. Ltd.. The company sold electrical appliances, including radios, and was once an agent for Esso gas.

More recently, in a somewhat nostalgic move, Kongsoon House was acquired by OCBC, the strongest Singapore-based bank. Together with the adjacent 1886 Building and OCBC Building, it has been in use as OCBC's Premier Banking Complex.

Opening Hours

Monday - Friday :

  • Banking hours : 0930 hours - 1630 hours
  • Personal banking : 0930 hours - 1700 hours

Political Representation

Penang State Government

N.26 Padang Kota State Assemblyman : Chow Kon Yeow (Democratic Action Party)

Malaysian Federal Parliament

P.049 Tanjong Member of Parliament : Ng Wei Aik (Democratic Action Party)

References

  1. Hockton, K., Howard Tan, 2012. Penang : An Inside Guide to Its Historic Homes, Buildings, Monuments and Parks. MPH Group, Kuala Lumpur.
  2. Langdon, M. A Guide to George Town's Historic Commercial and Civic Precints. George Town World Heritage Incorporated, Penang.
  3. Khoo S.N., 2007. Streets of George Town, Penang. Areca Books, Penang.
  4. http://www.penang-traveltips.com/kongsoon-house.htm

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