Tan Hiok Nee Cultural Street

Tan Hiok Nee Cultural Street

If you are at Tan Hiok Nee Cultural Street, you cannot miss that corner shophouse which was recently repainted in bright red with contrasting white highlights.  

Even while renovations were on, No. 56 attracted curious enquires from many who wondered what it housed and who it belonged to because it certainly looked posh enough to be a private property.  When works were completed in June 2011, the façade of this building served as an impressive backdrop for several successful cultural events on this street. 

This 19th Century building was originally owned by an Indian family and changed hands several times before its present owner decided to restore it to its former glory.  While Jalan Tan Hiok Nee was declared a heritage street in October 2009, the owner had the passion and foresight to preserve this pre-war shop-house as a heritage building. The historical value of this building is priceless as it is a portal into the rich and unique history of Johor Baru.

During the 8th Johor Baru Arts Festival in July 2011 some events were jointly organized with the Tan Hiok Nee Heritage Walk Committee and held at various venues on this street. Throughout the Fest, arts enthusiasts thronged the area and had a glimpse of this remarkable building which inevitably earned its moniker – The Red House.  Finally on 23 July, a selected few had the privilege to attend a by-invitation movie event held here.

It was an enchanted evening because the nostalgic ambience of this beautiful building was the perfect place for the screening of the award-winning movie, “Love is a Many Splendoured Thing.” This movie classic, based on a novel written by Han Suyin, is believed to be her autobiography. Han Suyin was the pen-name of Dr Elizabeth Comber, a Eurasian doctor who spent about 10 years in Johor Baru, working in a dispensary located above the former Universal Pharmacy at No. 24 Jalan Ibrahim.  This row of shops on a parallel road just a stone’s throw away from the Red House was however, destroyed by fire in 1982.

In August 2011, the Red House was leased to the Tan Hiok Nee Heritage Walk Committee who has plans to host various cultural events here and bring more excitement into the heart of old Johor Baru. 

An event on 21 August, dubbed Red Wine @ Red House was a wine appreciation evening where some wine connoisseurs learnt the finer points of appreciating red and white wines and the art of reading labels on wine bottles from Sylviane Siah of S & L Vintners.  From 10 September a Photography Exhibition by Dato Dr Siow Kuang Ling will be presented at the Red House for two weeks.

It is a very interesting place in Johor that you must visit!!

Old Buildings Style in Jln. Tan Hiok Nee

In here, old style buildings erected along the road. A muzeum also built to appreciate the cultural lifestyle in Johor that is interesting. As you can see the old design column that used to carved out.




Old businesses like Leong Yew Stationers, established since 1955, are still open for business here. A clock and watch shop is proud of their original signboard, now displayed indoors, as they continue doing business with regular customers. Bharath Store sells a wide range of provisions and still offers biscuits sold by weight from a stack of large tins, each filled with different types of biscuits. Next door, ST Cargo & Travels, is an agency that specializes in outbound tours to India. Further along the road, two shops stock such a wide range of products that they are virtually mini department stores where you can buy a suitcase to pack all you need for travel.




There are seven units of old shops at the top of Jalan Trus that also has road frontage at Jalan Ibrahim and Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, to develop Eh He – Earth Heart.  The Ink Brew by Just Want Coffee occupies the ground floor while the upstairs is a café and gallery dubbed, The Classic Accents Art House, a space dedicated to showcasing the work of homegrown artists.

As Tan Hiok Nee Heritage Walk is drawing clusters of creative minds here to give new life to old buildings, it’s heartwarming to see how old and new businesses continue to thrive in multi-racial harmony just as they did in a bygone era.  It’s delightful to witness such an evolution and I wonder what kangchu and Major China of Johor, Tan Hiok Nee, will say if he knew that a road named after him has turned into a hip and happening place in Johor Baru!


Source: https://yolothug0814.wixsite.com/jln-tan-hiok-nee/architecture

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