Swire House (originally named "Union House") [1962-1998]

Submitted by Admin on Sun, 03/14/2010 - 21:43
Current condition
Demolished / No longer exists
Date completed
Date closed / demolished
Later place(s) at this location

Photos that show this Place


Hi there,

I remember back in the late 1960's and early 1970's or even the early 1980's the then Swire House used to be called the Union House (於仁行).  I could not recall exactly when did it got changed to Swire House,  but definitely NOT in the 1960's.  Better consult Old Timer or Raymond on this.

Best Regards,


Thanks for the extra info. Annelise, I couldn't find that info on the HK Land site - if you know where it is, please could you leave a link? Also I remember some time back you gave a link to a government book online that lists all major buildings and their completion dates. I can't find that either - please could you let us know again?

I've put in estimates for the dates from these sources:

  • Completion: "Demolition work started last Friday on the remaining portion of the old Union Building. On the site the second phase of the new Union House will be built and this is expected to be completed two years from now." Page 10, China Mail, 6 July 1960.
  • Demolition: "[HK Land] is to proceed with the redevelopment of Swire House, its 35-year old commercial property in Hong Kong's Central business district. The redevelopment will commence in October 1998, with completion expected in 2003". HK Land Press Release.

I sent an email via the HKLand website this morning, and got this nice reply this evening. 

"Thank you for your interest in Hongkong Land. Regret that we did not keep the physical display of previous buildings at Chater House but if you have time, please click onto the following link for the development of Central, Hongkong Land and our buildings in Central.


Re Chater House, buildings that have been on that site were:

1905 - 1958 : Three buildings on site, they were Mansions Building (Hotel Mansions, later renamed Union Building), King's Building and York Building

1958 : Work began in February on Phase One of the redevelopment of the site, involving the replacement of King's and York's Buildings to the east of the former Union House

1962 : Phase Two of the redevelopment of the site, involving demolition of Union Building, allowed the whole site to be redeveloped as one structure of 23 levels called Union House

1976 : The name Union House was changed to Swire House
2002 :  The name Swire House was changed to Chater House

Yours sincerely,
Shirley Woo
Senior Manager

Just to add some confusion, this is a screen grab from the 1960/61 Hong Kong show starring Rod Taylor. Is that Union House in the background behind Queen's Building? If so, then that would mean there was a definite overlap in the existence of these two. The show was largely shot in 1960 but the tail end of the series apparently filmed in 1961. So I can't say for sure if this image was taken in 1960 or 1961, but either way it implies Union House was completed (but not open) before 1962.

Queen's Building
Queen's Building, by Philk

Page 76 of Hongkong Land at 125 says:

King's and York Buildings were demolished first, and by August 1960 the first phase of Union House was completed. The old Union Building was demolished in early 1961 and the combined Union House (later renamed Swire House) was completed in 1962.

So the eastern section - seen in Phil's screen grab above - was finished in 1960.

This photo from c.1959 shows the first phase of Union House under construction, but the old Union Building still standing:

1950s Star Ferry
1950s Star Ferry, by Gone-Walkabout

I note from a copy of a letter contained in a book called "The First Estates The Story of Fairview Park and Hong Lok Yuen with Documents" (Hong Kong University Press 2020) (at page 115) that as at 25 August 1976, the building was still called Union House. The building housed a solicitors firm called Woo & Woo at the time. For copyright reasons, I have not included a copy of that letter here.