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Penang Islamic Council Building, George Town, Penang

Penang Islamic Council Building at Beach Street, George Town

The Penang Islamic Council Building at Beach Street in the heart of George Town's UNESCO World Heritage Site is a double-storey Neo-Classical-style building built by the Straits Settlements government in 1907. It was initially part of the larger U-shaped Government Offices that housed the Straits Settlements administrative offices.

However, much of the impressive U-shaped complex was destroyed during the Japanese invasion of Penang in World War 2. This structure was the only one that remained standing by the end of the war. Today, it houses Penang's Islamic Council, the Penang state government agency in charge of Muslim affairs within the State of Penang.

History

Government Buildings, George Town, Penang (1906)

A postcard dated in 1906 depicting the Government Offices (seen here is the Weld Quay wing).

Originally, Beach Street served as the eastern coastal road of George Town; prior to the 1880s, the land on which the Penang Islamic Council Building now stands did not exist, as the eastern side of Beach Street ran along the seaside.

Government Buildings, Beach Street, George Town, Penang (1910s)

A postcard depicting the Government Offices (Beach Street wing) in 1910s.

Between 1883 and 1889, land was reclaimed to the east of Beach Street, creating Downing Street, King Edward's Place and Weld Quay. The Straits Settlements government subsequently began the construction of a large U-shaped administrative complex in stages on this reclaimed land. Between 1884 and 1889, the first part at King Edward's Place was built, followed by an L-shaped extension facing Weld Quay to the east.

Government Buildings, Beach Street, George Town, Penang (1910s)-2

Another picture of the Government Offices taken in the 1910s.

In the 1890s, a Land Office wing along Beach Street was created to the west, stretching from the original King Edward's Place structure. This was followed by the third phase, which involved extending the Weld Quay wing down to Downing Street between 1901 and 1903.

Downing Street, George Town, Penang (1910s)

Downing Street in the 1910s. The portion of the Government Offices to the right (now the Penang Islamic Council Building) housed the Land Office and a telegraph office.

Finally, the Beach Street wing was also extended south towards Downing Street between 1907 and 1909. It is this final extension that now serves as the Penang Islamic Council Building.

By the time of its completion, the richly ornamented double-storey Neo-Classical style extension formed the pinnacle of colonial architecture in the Straits Settlements during the Edwardian era. This portion of the Government Offices housed the Land Office of the Straits Settlement of Penang and the Telegraph Co. Ltd.

Downing Street, George Town, Penang

Downing Street in 2016. The Penang Islamic Council Building is to the right.

Unfortunately, most of the Government Offices was destroyed by Japanese and Allied aerial bombardments of George Town during World War 2. By war's end, only the newest Land Office wing, built in 1907, remained standing.

Today, this building houses the Penang Islamic Council, an agency of the Penang state government that is in charge of matters of Islamic jurisprudence within the State of Penang.

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. Penang : George Town World Heritage Incorporated, Penang.
  3. Cheah J. S., 2013. Penang 500 Early Postcards. Editions Didier Millet.
  4. http://www.penang-traveltips.com/islamic-council-building.htm

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