Nam Koo Terrace, Ship Lane
Nam Koo Terrace is one of those buildings that makes you just stop and stare in awe and wonder. ‘Awe’ because it is a magnificent example of colonial architecture, ‘wonder’ because again like so many things of historical value in HK it sits neglected, possibly awaiting demolition, to make way for yet another pointless development dreamed up by someone with too much time and money on their hands.
The place sits at the top of Ship Street in Wanchai and is fairly well known for being haunted. I can’t locate the exact stories concerning these so called ghosts but no doubt it entails screams and banging doors etc. The building itself is a relic from the gentrification of Wanchai in the early twentieth century and until a few years ago was one of two in the same area. Sadly only Nam Koo remains and its fate is still very much up in the air. The company that owns it is Hopewell Holdings – they of the Hopewell Centre (the cylindrical skyscraper which houses the R66 revolving restaurant) fame. The plan was to build the Hopewell “Megatower”, the name itself sounds horrific and this area was earmarked as the location – thus everything in the vicinity has been ripped out. Several of the plans for this megatower have not received the welcome they were expecting, and plans have been thrown out, and Hopewell have decided to go back to previously approved plans from 1994. Only time will tell what happens.
Interestingly, during the Japanese occupation of HK, the houses in this area, including this one, were used as ‘geisha houses’ – brothels for the Japanese Military. Until recently it was possible to get inside the grounds (illegally, it is after all private property still) and there are many site all over the internet with photos taken from the front (and a few internal shots) showing the verandahs in all their splendid collonaded glory. However, unless you are a practitioner of parkour and are not wandering around with a 4 months pregnant wife and two young children, there isn’t much chance of getting inside now – besides even if you could you may be scared away by the rattling chains and eerie groaning coming from inside.
Personally I think it would be a perfect location to house a Wanchai History museum. Wanchai is definitely one of the more famous and historically rich areas of HK and it seems a shame that it doesn’t have its own dedicated showpiece for this. I am quite confident it would be popular especially if was housed in such a fantastic location. But hey, no one ever listens to me (not even my kids)