Penang Haritage Tip :: Town Hall

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The Old Town Hall was the oldest Municipal Building in Penang and its foundation was first laid on 1st January 1879 by Lt. Governor Sir Archibald Edward Harbord Anson. Located at Lot No. 70, Section 19, Georgetown, North-East District, Penang Island, the building occupies a land area of 70,711 square feet along Jalan Padang Kota Lama, facing the famous Esplanade. Upon completion in 1880, the building was officiated by Frederick Weld, the Governor of the Straits Settlements (Khoo, S.N., 1998).

The Old Town Hall was primarily used as a social venue for the town’s European community, also known as the European Club amongst the local Chinese. A town band comprising Filipino musicians performed at the Old Town Hall from 1890 to 1954 (Khoo, S.N., 1993). The building became a premier place for Georgetown’s social events, balls, public speeches, dramatic performances, art exhibitions and amateur concerts. Apart from administrative and social functions, the Old Town Hall housed the Penang Library for more than 20 years and a private college (Kolej Damansara Utama) for 8 years. Due to its immense historical and architectural values, the building was gazetted on 29th July 1982 under the Antiquities Act 1976.

Built in Western architectural style with classical arches, columns, pilasters, quoins, ornamental elements on roof parapet and balustrades, this two-storey building consists of a front portico, an assembly hall, a ballroom with adjoining supper rooms, a performance stage, office rooms and a library.

The Old Town Hall was later renovated with its side wing extended and a covered balcony added over the front portico to provide a better view overlooking the sport and recreational activities in the grounds. The building had been extended several times in its history in 1890, 1903, 1938, 1958 and 1991 to accommodate the increasing demand for internal space.

During the filming of the 20th Century Fox movie “Anna and the King” in Penang in 1999, the Town Hall’s ballroom on the first floor was transformed into the Royal Hall of Justice where three judges presided over Princess Tup Tim’s trial (Penang Heritage Trust, 1999).

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GPS Coordinates: 5°25’15.69″N, 100°20’28.07″E Geotag Icon Show on map