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Logan's Building, George Town, Penang

The Logan Heritage Building at Beach Street, George Town, built in the 1880s, now serves as an arcade housing various shops and cafes.

The Logan Heritage Building at Beach Street, within George Town's UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a double-storey Victorian-style complex containing shops and offices. Currently owned by the Singapore-based Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), the building has been recently restored to its original glory, and now serves as an arcade housing various retail outlets and eateries.

Located at the junction between Beach Street and Union Street, the building was named after Daniel Logan, the son of the famous Scottish lawyer, James Richardson Logan. Upon its completion in 1883, it was three storeys high. The building also served as Penang's first large-scale complex of shops and offices.

By the 1930s, the Logan Building, as it was then named, was in a dilapidated state. During the subsequent renovation works, the top floor was removed and the parapet was redesigned in the Art Deco style which was fashionable at the time.

Over the years, numerous firms have been based inside the building, while property auctions were held within its granite-paved central archway. However, after Barkath Stores was closed down in the 1980s, the building was once again left to rot. After George Town's listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, the building was the first on Penang Island to be restored completely by the private sector.

Logan Building, Beach Street, George Town, Penang (1913)

A 1900 postcard depicting the Logan Building in its original form.

History

In the early 19th. century, mercantile godowns stood at the site where the Logan Heritage Building now stands. The godowns were owned by British and American traders like Thomas Perkins, William Weightman and George Porter. Also located here were The Navy Tavern and Anthony Brunoe’s tavern.

The three-storey Victorian-style Logan Building was completed in 1883, at a time when commercial and financial activities at Beach Street were booming. The building came complete with cast iron balconies installed along its Beach Street side and a central arch covering a granite-paved porte-cochère, which could be used by horse carriages. Upon its completion, the building was Penang's first large complex of shops and offices.

Logan Building, Beach Street, George Town, Penang (1890)

The Logan Building can be seen to the right in this picture of Beach Street taken in the 1890s.

Owned by Kapitan Chung Keng Kwee, the richest man on Penang Island in the late 19th. century, it was named after Daniel Logan, the son of the famous Scottish lawyer, James Richardson Logan. During his lifetime, James successfully defended the rights of Asian inhabitants of Penang Island. Continuing his father's legacy, Daniel Logan was admitted to the Penang Bar in 1864 and appointed Crown Prosecutor the following year, as well as Solicitor General in 1867. He and Frederick Ross founded the Logan and Ross legal firm in 1871 which was subsequently based in the Union Street side of this building.

In the past, property auctions were held under the archway, while several firms and banks were based inside the building, such as Pritchard & Co., Robinson Piano Co. Ltd., Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation (before moving to the HSBC Building in 1906) and George Town Dispensary (before moving to the current George Town Dispensary Building in 1923). The Pinang Gazette newspaper, the first English newspaper on Penang Island, also shifted into the building after its offices in the nearby Whiteaways Building were destroyed in a fire in 1904.

By the 1930s, a combination of Penang's tropical climate and its location near the sea caused the building to suffer structural damage. The Logan Building was so run-down that the Straits Settlements authorities issued a 'dangerous building' notice. To restore the building, the Chung Keng Kwee Estate that owned the building roped in the services of architect Lim Soo Loon.

To save the building, its top floor and the cast iron balconies were removed. The parapet was also redesigned in the then-fashionable Art Deco style. In addition, Lim kept true to the original design of the building and retained its attractive features, such as the rusticated plasterwork that start from the ground right up to the moulded cornices along the parapet.

Logan Building, Beach Street, George Town, Penang (2000)

The Logan Building was left in a dilapidated state after the Barkath Store was closed in the 1980s.

The building continued to house retail stores right up to the 1980s, when the Barkath Stores at the corner between Beach Street and Union Street was shut down for good. For the next two decades, it was left abandoned.

After George Town's inclusion as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, the Logan Building was given a new lease of life. Acquired by Singapore's largest bank, the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), it was subsequently renovated at a cost of RM6.8 million (Malaysian Ringgit). OCBC footed RM5 million, while TecCentury, the property management firm that manages the building, forked out the remaining RM1.8 million.

When it was reopened to the public in 2010, the Logan Building was also renamed the Logan Heritage Building. It is believed to be the first colonial building on Penang Island to be restored completely by the private sector.

Logan Heritage Building, Beach Street, George Town, Penang

Shops and cafes along the Logan Heritage Building today.

Today, the Logan Heritage Building houses various retail outlets, including a foreign currency exchanger and a convenience store, and trendy cafes.

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.
  4. http://www.penang-traveltips.com/lgn-building.htm
  5. http://www.thestar.com.my/news/community/2010/12/20/grand-day-for-historical-building/

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