Logan Heritage: A praiseworthy restoration of a Penang heritage building of the 19th century

Logan Heritage
Logan Heritage, George Town, Penang
(C) Zain Abdullah - All rights reserved
The Logan Building is a double-frontage historic building fronting on Beach Street (Lebuh Pantai) and Union Street. In the 19th century, Beach Street was the busiest commercial and the banking centre of Penang.  Now it is located in the Core Zone of George Town UNESCO  World Heritage site.  The building was designed in Victorian architectural style and completed in 1883.  It was owned by a Chinese multi-millionaire from Perak, “Kapitan” Chung Keng Quee.

Upon completion, it was the first large-scale complex of shops and offices ever constructed in Penang.  It was commonly known as the Logan Buildings reflecting its association with Daniel Logan, the son of prominent lawyer James Richardson Logan. Daniel Logan was appointed Crown Prosecutor in 1865 and Solicitor General in 1867 by the British Government. He and Frederick Ross founded the legal firm of Logan and Ross in 1871 which subsequently operated from an office in the Union Street side of this building for many years.


Logan Heritage
The central archway that fronts on Beach Street
(C) Zain Abdullah - All rights reserved
One of the most charming and unique features of this building is its central archway that fronts on Beach Street. This archway serves as porte-cochere and inner courtyard for horse-drawn carriages. In its heyday auctions of property also were often held under the archway.  Throughout its long history many of Penang’s most prominent early firms were based here including Pritchard & Co., Robinson Piano Co. Ltd, the Hongkong & Shanghai Bank, legal firms such as Presgrave & Matthews, A.A. Anthony & Co., Logan & Ross, auctioneers and general brokers Cunningham, Clark & Co. and various other retail and professional businesses. The Pinang Gazette newspaper, considered the oldest English language newspaper on the East of Suez,  was relocated here from the Whiteaways building next door after its offices and press were destroyed in the 1904 fire.

Another interesting fact about this classic edifice is when it was completed circa 1883, it was originally 3-storey high and sported cast iron balconies on the Beach Street frontage.  See the picture from an old postcard below.

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Logan Building – Image was reproduced from “George Town’s Historic Commercial and Civic Precincts” by Marcus Langdon, without permission but in accordance with the principles of fair use

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Beach Street in 1890s. The building at right is Logan Building in its original form. Image was reproduced from “Malaysia – A pictorial history 1400 – 2004” coffee-table book by Wendy Khadijah Moore, without permission but in accordance with the principles of fair use
However nothing lasts forever. After more than 50 years of existence, with the hot and humid tropical weather and being very near to the sea, the building suffered some structural damage and was in dilapidated condition. The owners, the Chung Keng Quee Estate, brought in the architect Lim Soo Loon to renovate the building in 1930s. In an effort to salvage the building and to renovate it the upper floor was totally removed as it was badly damaged besides compromising the whole structure. The parapet wall was then redesigned in the Art Deco style which was fashionable in the 1930’s. This explained the existence of the Art Deco stepped parapet at the centre of the building where the building name was put up.

As a result Logan Building became a 2-storey building with the hybrid of Victorian and Art Deco architectural style! It used to house upmarket shops and prominent European companies.  One of the last occupants in one corner of it was Barkath Stores before the building was closed for the latest restoration.


Logan Building before the latest restoration – Photo by Leonard Kong Photography reproduced from http://wilsonbeh.com/?tag=unesco-heritage, without permission but with the principles of fair use.
The latest restoration project costing RM6.8 million was financed by its new owner OCBC Bank which forked out RM5 million and Tec Century, a property management company that manages this building, footed the remaining RM1.8 million. The restoration work was entrusted to y Architects Sdn Bhd which won a Mention in the PAM (Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia) Awards 2010 in the Conservation Buildings category.

After restoration, its new owner officially changed the name of this building to Logan Heritage. It was believed to be one of the first heritage landmarks in Penang to be restored through a fully private sector initiative.  It was reopened to the public in December 2010 after a year of intensive restoration.

It now houses a variety of food and beverages outlets, a foreign currency exchange facility, a gadgets’ shop, a convenience store besides other trendy commercial outlets.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng who visited the building during its official opening praised the efforts of the bank and the property management company in meeting the heritage guidelines of the Penang Municipal Council.

I photographed most of the pictures here on the third and the last day of my brief holiday in Penang early June lst year. I was lucky on that day when the weather was very clear resulting in flattering and beautiful lighting while two days before the weather was gloomy and overcast.  As you can see here the Logan Heritage looks majestic when bathed in the low-angled, warm early morning sun light. It brought out the building's charm and three-dimensionality.


Logan Heritage
Logan Heritage is now occupied by trendy stores and cafes to cater for tourists and banks’ employees around the area

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Logan Heritage
(C) Zain Abdullah - All rights reserved


References:

Beh, W. (2011, July 17). Georgetown is alive again – UNESCO Heritage Status 3rd Year Anniversary [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://wilsonbeh.com/?p=300

Filmer, A. (2012, August 15). A downright classic. The Star Online. Retrieved from http://www.thestar.com.my/Story/?file=%2F2012%2F8%2F15%2Fnorth%2F11840203&

Langdon, M. (2010). George Town’s historic commercial and civic precincts. Retrieved June 8, 2015 from http://gtwhi.com.my/images/pdfs/George%20Towns%20Historic%20Commercial%20and%20Civic%20Precincts.pdf

Tye, T. (2010, November 23). Logan Heritage Building, George Town [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.penang-traveltips.com/lgn-building.htm

Yeoh, W. (2010, November 13). Heritage site to reopen. The Star Online. Retrieved from http://www.thestar.com.my/story/?file=%2F2010%2F11%2F23%2Fnorth%2F7480908&sec=north




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