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Schmidt Küstermann Building, Weld Quay, George Town, Penang

The Schmidt Küstermann Building (now Royale bintang Hotel) at Weld Quay, George Town.

The Schmidt Küstermann Building is one of the colonial buildings that line Weld Quay in the heart of George Town's UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in the 1890s, it, along with Boustead Building, next door now houses the Royale Bintang Hotel .

The building was originally erected to house Schmidt, Küstermann & Co., one of the first German businesses to establish a branch in Penang. The firm, which also had earlier set up another branch in Singapore, specialised in maritime trade. As the owners were German, the company's assets, including this building, were seized by the British during World War 1; the building was subsequently sold off to a Chinese businessman, Heah Swee Lee.

Both the Schmidt Küstermann Building and Boustead Building were renovated in recent years and has been transformed into the Royale Bintang Hotel, complete with conference and banquet halls, as well as a handful of eateries within.

Weld Quay, George Town, Penang (1900s)

A 1900s postcard of Weld Quay. The Schmidt Küstermann Building, coloured dark orange, is visible along the row of colonial office buildings.

History

Schmidt, Küstermann & Co., which had earlier established a branch in Singapore, set up another branch at Beach Street, George Town in 1858. The firm, owned by German and Swiss merchants, focused on maritime and mercantile trade, acting as agents for Ohlendorff & Co. in London in the 1870s, and later for the Sun Insurance Office and the Austrian branch of Lloyds Steam Navigation Company in the 1890s.

The Schmidt Küstermann Building was built in the early 1890s, right after the construction of neighbouring Boustead Building.

However, the outbreak of the First World War spelled doom for the firm. British authorities in the then Straits Settlements moved to arrest all German nationals and seize their assets. The assets of Schmidt, Küstermann & Co., including this building, were no exception. At the time, two of the three owners of the firm were German; consequently, both had all their shares confiscated. The remaining owner, a Swiss, was spared of the fate, and attempted to revive the business as Sturzenneger & Co. at Church Street, but this firm eventually went into bankruptcy in 1922.

Royale Bintang, Weld Quay, George Town, Penang

The Royale Bintang Hotel is housed within both the Schmidt Küstermann Building and Boustead Building.

The Schmidt Küstermann Building was put on auction in 1916 and sold off to Heah Swee Lee, a local tycoon, for $283,000 (Straits dollar) the following year.

The building underwent restoration works during the early 2010s and is now part of the four-star Royale Bintang Hotel complex, which also includes Boustead Building.

 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. Langdon, M. A Guide to George Town's Historic Commercial and Civic Precints. Penang : George Town World Heritage Incorporated.
  2. Cheah J. S., 2013. Penang 500 Early Postcards. Editions Didier Millet.
  3. Khoo S.N., 2007. Streets of George Town, Penang. Areca Books, Penang.
  4. http://www.penang-traveltips.com/schmidt-kustermann.htm
  5. http://www.royalebintang-penang.com/

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