33 Magazine Gap Road, aka "The Pink House" [1949- ] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

33 Magazine Gap Road, aka "The Pink House" [1949- ]

Date Place completed: 
1949-01-01

Photos that show this place

Comments

As part of trying to put a date on this photo, I'm interested to find out more about the building at 33 Magazine Gap Road. I'm especially interested to see what it looked like shortly before WW2, and whether it survived the war relatively intact or was demolished. If you have any aerial photos of the area, or photos from the harbour that show this section of the ridge, taken in the period 1930-1950, please could I see them?

The Antiquities & Monuments Office (AMO) have proposed it should become a  Grade 3 listed building, but the proposal has a couple of conflicting statements. Under "Social Value & Local Interest" is the comment:

Being one of the last remaining pre-war buildings on the Peak it is worthy of preservation.

However the "Historical Interest" section suggests that the building has seen major redevelopment:

Although Government records indicate that the site was already occupied as early as 1924, aerial photographs show that the building in 1945 had a different composition and orientation from the existing one. Conversely, the present “T-shaped” layout is clearly marked on the attached plans of the Crown Lease in 1952. It is therefore presumed that the building was rebuilt in 1945-1952.

If today's building is basically the 1924 structure, with a few changes over the years, fair enough. But if it was demolished during the war and rebuilt afterwards, it's a stretch to call it a "pre-war building".

Here's a view of the building today. It's a boxy, T-shaped building. Here we're standing to the east of the building looking at it side-on:


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These photos show the ridgeline at different times:

Skylines-3

The top photo is from 1968/9. 33 Magazine Gap Road is the just to right of centre.

The middle photo is undated. Current guess is that it was taken shortly after 33 was finished, but I'd like to see what the pre-war building looked like to be sure.

The bottom photo is from 1945. Apparently the site for 33 was empty, suggesting the pre-war building had been demolished during the fighting / Japanese occupation. (Though the line of sight for this third view is slightly different, and there's a small chance that the site for 33 is hidden behind the hill. It'd be good to see other photos from this time to compare.)

Regards, David

PS Here's the AMO's information about the site:

Historic Building Appraisal
No. 33 Magazine Gap Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Historical Interest

No. 33 Magazine Gap Road 馬己仙峽道 was originally known as No.516 The Peak. Although Government records indicate that the site was already occupied as early as 1924, aerial photographs show that the building in 1945 had a different composition and orientation from the existing one. Conversely, the present “T-shaped” layout is clearly marked on the attached plans of the Crown Lease in 1952. It is therefore presumed that the building was rebuilt in 1945-1952.

The earliest recorded owner of No. 33 Magazine Gap Road was Sydney Hampden Ross. Thereafter, the site has changed hands a number of times. During the post-World War II period, it was once owned by Dodwell and Company Limited and China Engineers Limited. Since 1980, it has been owned by a subsidiary company of Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) and has been used as a staff quarter for HSBC staff. Occupants used to raise flags at the mansion, including the HSBC Flag during weekdays and the British Flag during holidays. The practice has been abandoned since 1 July 1997.

Architectural Merit

The building is built in Italianate Renaissance style displaying a typical symmetrical palace front façade. The building is three stories high with the lower storey finished with plain rendering (originally imitation stucco
stonework) and the upper stories in brickwork (now sadly painted pink). The main entrance with Doric columns and a segmental pediment has a grand double-entry balustraded staircase. Windows are arched, pedimented or flat
topped with keystones. Unfortunately modern steel framed windows have been installed. Open verandahs or loggias with giant Corinthian order columns are placed on either side of the central bay on the front façade. A heavily moulded entablature and cornice unites the three bays. Two ornamental festoons or swags decorate the front façade parapet. The roof is believed to be pitched and hipped and tiled.

Rarity, Built Heritage Value & Authenticity

This is an elegant and rare piece of architecture with obvious built heritage value. Unfortunately the external appearance has been much impaired by the numerous air-conditioning units, ventilation fans, conduits and plumbing being added to the elevations. The painting of the brickwork and the rendering over of the imitation stucco stonework has also destroyed the original authentic appearance of the building.

Social Value & Local Interest

As the building apparently has only been used for residential purposes, the social value to the community is low. Being one of the last remaining pre-war buildings on the Peak it is worthy of preservation. It is a reminder of the historical and social development of the Peak and therefore has local interest.

Group Value

Sited among pleasant greenery, No. 33 Magazine Gap Road enjoys a quiet environment and connects with other residential villas in the area. Some historic items on the Peak include the Former Gate Lodge (舊總督山頂別墅守
衛室, Declared Monument), the Peak Depot (山頂倉庫Grade II), Old Peak Café (舊山頂餐廳 Grade II), Former Peak School (前山頂學校, Grade II), Peak Police Station (山頂警署, Grade III) and Matilda and War Memorial Hospital (明德醫院, Grade III).

Adaptive Re-use

As any adaptive re-use would most likely cause further harm to the authenticity of the building, it is recommended that it should continue to be used for residential purposes. Any further so-called “renovation work” should
be carried out under expert guidance with the aim of restoring the building as much as possible to its original appearance.

Remarks:

No. 33 Magazine Gap Road is not graded, but it is one of the historic items recorded by the Antiquities and Monuments Office.

BTW does the building have a name?

I have a friend who used to live here so I popped off a quick question and he has told me the building is known within HSBC as the "Pink House". It's still an accommodation block for HSBC staff and he believes the bank came into possession of it when they bought the Mercantile Bank sometimes in the 1950's (according to wiki HSBC acquired MB in 1959).

He's given me an archivists name at HSBC to try and contact so I'll try and locate a mail address for them and let you know if I have any luck.

Cheers

Phil

Moddsey, I can't see any name on any current maps, it's just referred to by a number.

Phil, thanks for the email. I'll send them a message and see if they can add any more to the story.

Regards, David

The Home Affairs Department's Database of private buildings gives "Year Built" as 1949.

Ah, the Pink House!  My family and I lived there from 1986 to 1994, middle floor, west side, and, of all the properties (eleven of them) we lived in during my husband's 27 years with HSBC, this was our favourite.  We looked at the outside of it earlier this year and sadly it's in need of a little care and attention. However, I'd disagree with it having "sadly" been painted pink. More of a terracotta colour, but with the mortar lines picked out in white it looked pink from a distance.  And much nicer than plain old brick if you ask me.  Gorgeous place, inside and out, and I can't bear to think it might not be preserved!

You can put "The Pink House" in the title.  I've seen the name at the HSBC archives.  Not listed that way on any maps, just a nickname, but will be recognized by HSBC people who visit Gwulo.

Once owned by The China Engineers, Ltd - it was sold in 1961 to Mercantile Bank, the year after the company's owner, William Charles Gomerall died. 

This thread is so interesting, it inspired me to follow up a story on heritage buildings of Hong Kong known by their colour. I am writing to ask if I might have the permission to quote from the posts in an article I am writing for China Daily... not much, maybe just two or three lines on the experience of living in it...

For about a month I tried using my sources to have someone with a similar experience talk to us... I would be extremely grateful if I could use a bit of the material you have posted here, with due acknowledgement...

I have seen the house from the outside... It's gorgeous... 

 

Anyone is welcome to use my posts with attribution.  What about the rest David ?

Hi Chitralekha,

Thanks for asking. If you're just quoting 2 or 3 lines with a link back to http://gwulo.com/node/11884 as the source, I doubt anyone will mind. But if you'd like to check with any of the contributors, let me know which ones by email and I'll forward your inquiry to them. My email:

David email

Annelise, there's the concept of "fair use" if just quoting small amounts, but it's always good to be asked.

Regards, David 

I lived in 17 Magazine Gap Rd for 20 years and I often looked up towards the Pink House sitting so proudly on the top of that hill. I have only walked to it's site and looked around the outside admiringly. Often wondered about those lucky ones who lived there and what the inside lookded like. It looked really PINK even when i was standing in front of it.