Sunday, September 2, 2007

Singapore - White House Park Bungalow

$29m for a piece of Singapore history

Glencaird, the last of four bungalows built a century ago in White House Park, goes to mystery buyer

THE mystery buyer who snapped up a White House Park bungalow has secured a special piece of Singapore history for his record $29 million purchase price.

The 105-year-old Victorian home, Glencaird, was designed in the late 1870s by Regent Alfred John Bidwell, a famous British architect who has been called the originator of the country's black and white colonial bungalows.

Mr Bidwell's houses are marked by timber elements painted black and the rendered surfaces white, according to Julian Davison's book, Black And White: The Singapore House 1898-1941.
The book also says that many of these Victorian bungalows were built for the Public Works Department for civil servants and officers during World War I.

The Singapore House 1819-1942 by Lee Kip Lin, states that White House Park, a 22ha estate, was granted to Gilbert Angus in 1852.

By 1862, it was sold to Reme Leveson & Company. It was later sold to John Fraser, from Fraser & Neave, who built Glencaird and possibly also Cree Hall, which was also designed by Mr Bidwell

From 1947, Glencaird became the official residence of the Australian High Commissioner before its 1996 sale to Wheelock Properties, which declined to name the new buyer.

The bungalow is the last left out of the four built in White House Park estate more than a century ago.

It was gazetted as a heritage building in 1991 which means no structural modifications can be carried out.

'Glencaird is a very important building which has yet to be thoroughly documented,' said Dr Kevin Tan, president of the Singapore Heritage Society.

The 22,000 sq ft bungalow has two living and dining rooms and five bedrooms.
In 1997, Argentinian architect Ernesto Bedmar, who headed the conservation efforts at the Goodwood Park Hotel, began restoring Glencaird.

Mr Bedmar described it as a 'challenge' as he had to 'modernise and update the look while respecting the original concept'.

The restoration included laying parquet flooring, new carpentry, additional beams and columns and building a basement.

The huge and imposing staircase was 'kept intact' as well, said Mr Bedmar, although modern features such as air-conditioning, a swimming pool and a basement entertainment room were added.

Work on the entire Glencaird Residences - which included building 11 other bungalows - was finished in 1999. But Glencaird itself stayed empty until a good enough offer came along, said Wheelock's chief executive officer, Mr David Lawrence.
GLENCAIRD'S ORIGINAL OWNER was John Fraser, from Fraser & Neave. The 22,000 sq ft bungalow (above) has two living and dining rooms and five bedrooms. The entrance to the house (below), which was designed in the late 1870s by famous British architect Regent Alfred John Bidwell, was placed at a corner instead of the centre front, breaking long-held traditional planning, to take advantage of the pleasant views. The house was built in such a way as to ensure good ventilation and sunlight.
Source: Straits Times, Sept 2 2007

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