Newly-restored mansion to open its doors

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 March, 2011, 12:00am
 

King Yin Lei, the historic mansion defaced by its owner more than three years ago, will open to the public next month after being restored to its former glory.

The Chinese Renaissance-style building in Stubbs Road has been earmarked for the third phase of a government heritage revitalisation scheme to be launched in June.

Jessie Ting Yip Yin-mei, deputy secretary for development, said the mansion would be open for 10 days over the first three weekends next month and the Easter Holidays, with a limit of 20,000 visitors.

'The open days would be an opportunity to seek public opinion on how the site should be used.

'But applicants for the revitalisation scheme will also be free to suggest uses,' Ting said. She urged visitors to take public transport to the site, which does not have parking space. Guided tours will be available.

The zoning of the site allows a range of uses, including for education, exhibition and convention purposes, as a library, shops or a restaurant. The future operator will have to seek Town Planning Board approval for commercial uses.

King Yin Lei was built in 1937 by Shum Yat-chor, a merchant and philanthropist.

In 2007, the then unidentified owner, who wanted to demolish the building for redevelopment, was found defacing it, with workers removing roof tiles and stone features.

The damage initially escaped the government's attention but the work was halted after media coverage, and officials provisionally declared the mansion a monument.

The status was confirmed in 2008 and the owner agreed to surrender the site in exchange for one on the slope next to it to build five three-storey houses.

The restoration work was conducted by Professor Tang Guohua, a conservation specialist from Guangzhou University.

Tang's team managed to find tiles, bricks and marble in Foshan and Fujian to recreate the window and door frames, the floor, the roof, a pavilion, ceiling, beams and walkways.

Original and replicated features are distinguishable if viewed close-up. A documentary has been filmed on the restoration process.

Open-day tickets are available from today online or by a form available at www.heritage.gov.hk.

Tickets will also be distributed at the Heritage Discovery Centre in Kowloon Park from Saturday.

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