Friday, 29 January 2016

Singapore's 71 National Monuments

The Fullerton Hotel Becomes Singapore's 71st National Monument

The Fullerton Building currently home to The Fullerton Hotel Singapore has just been gazetted as Singapore's 71st National Monument.

The national monument gazette is the highest form of recognition for a structure or site's significance. Evaluation factors include its historical, architectural and social importance to the country's built heritage.

First built in 1928, the former Fullerton Building was Singapore's General Post Office, housing several other Government departments in its early years, including the Ministry of Finance.

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Fullerton now Singapore's national monument

THE former Fullerton Building, first opened in 1928 and currently known as The Fullerton Hotel, has been gazetted as Singapore’s 71st National Monument by the National Heritage Board (NHB), concluding a series of gazettes in celebration of the country’s milestone 50th birthday. This is the highest form of recognition given to sites or structures that houses great national significance.

“The former Fullerton Building is one of the most iconic colonial buildings in Singapore, standing at the mouth of the Singapore River and defining the Singapore skyline since the 1920s,” said Jean Wee, director, preservation of sites and monuments division, NHB.

“Beyond its grand façade and beautiful architecture, it is filled with many priceless memories of our nation’s growth throughout the years – from the former General Post Office to government offices, it has served multiple functions that mark the tumultuous times we have lived through, and the steps taken to build our country.”

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Fullerton building used to have a lighthouse

Let us not neglect one fact about the Fullerton building, which has been declared a National Monument: It used to have a lighthouse (“Fullerton building: From GPO to national landmark”; Dec 7).

In 1958, a revolving beacon of 540 kilocandelas (equivalent to 540,000 candles) was mounted on its roof to guide ships into Singapore’s harbour, visible up to 33.3 kilometres away.

It was a historically well-known lighthouse for vessels navigating the Singapore Strait.

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Fullerton Hotel - Singapore’s newest national monument
Picture of Fullerton Hotel building (Source: National Heritage Board )

The Fullerton Hotel, once home to the General Post Office has been gazetted as Singapore’s 71st national monument by the National Heritage Board (NHB). The building which dates back to 1928 was named after the former governor of the Straits Settlements, Sir Robert Fullerton.

The Fullerton Building was given conservation status by URA in 1996. Sino Land, the Hong Kong arm of Singapore’s largest private property group, Far East Organization, successfully bid for the site and transformed it into the landmark Fullerton Hotel.

The 400-room hotel opened in 2001, and now, 14 years later, it has achieved the highest accolade as one of Singapore’s national monuments.

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Singapore declares The Fullerton as national monument
Singapore today declared the luxury Fullerton Hotel as a national monument, preserving British colonial architectural heritage going back to the early 1920s

Singapore today declared the luxury Fullerton Hotel as a national monument, preserving British colonial architectural heritage going back to the early 1920s.Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the building has a significant place in Singapore’s history and holds special meaning to the country and its people.”This transformation of the building, in a way, is a reflection of how Singapore as a nation transformed in one lifetime, going from an old historic building something which has been updated, keeping the essence of the old, but of this age and up-to-date and better than before,” Lee said.(Also Read: Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong pays tribute to Sikh community)

The 1928-built grand Neoclassical building declared as Singapore’s 71st National Monument, is situated at the mouth of the Singapore River.It was converted into one of Singapore’s luxury hotels and officially opened on January 1, 2001 by the then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong.The 400-room pentagon-shape Fullerton Hotel is rated among the best in the world.Before that it was Singapore’s General Post Office and housed several government departments, where some of Singapore’s pioneer leaders began their careers.Lee said the occasion was made “all the more special” because it happened during Singapore’s Jubilee Year or 50 years of independence celebration.

The building is one of the most iconic colonial buildings in Singapore, standing at the mouth of the Singapore River and defining the Singapore skyline since the 1920s.It was built on the former site of Fort Fullerton which was then built to protect the Singapore harbour, river and trade.The building also had a roof-top lighthouse from 1958 to 1978, guiding ships 30 miles away to Singapore harbour.Named after Sir Robert Fullerton, the first Governor of the Straits Settlement (1826-1830), the Neoclassical building then cost SGD 4.75 million to construct.

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Fullerton building: From GPO to national landmark
The former Fullerton Building, now The Fullerton Hotel, has been gazetted as Singapore's 71st national monument. Photo: Jason Quah/TODAY

Overlooking the mouth of the Singapore River and the heart of the Central Business District, the Fullerton Hotel’s colossal two-storey Doric colonnade bore witness, for almost nine decades, to the growth of the country through the colonial and pre-independence era till today.

Before its present day incarnation as a five-star hotel, the building was home to the former General Post Office, and over different periods of time, housed government offices and departments where some of the Republic’s pioneer leaders began their careers, as well as a hospital providing makeshift operation rooms for wounded British soldiers during World War II.

Today (Dec 7), the iconic eight-storey building — which was declared open on June 27, 1928 — was given its own place in history when it was gazetted as Singapore’s 71st National Monument.

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Fullerton Hotel’s historical significance
The Fullerton Hotel. TODAY file photo

The Fullerton Hotel, formerly known as the Fullerton Building, has been gazetted has Singapore’s 71st national monument. Here’s a look at its historical significance.

The former Fullerton Building, named after the first Governor of the Straits Settlements Sir Robert Fullerton, was declared open on June 27, 1928.

Other than housing the General Post Office of Singapore, the building also housed the Chamber of Commerce and Exchange, the Marine Office, Singapore Club and other government departments.

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Why was Fullerton building made a National Monument now?
I was pleasantly surprised at the designation of the Fullerton building as a National Monument (“Fullerton building: From GPO to national landmark”; Dec 7).
It is a historic building that has seen tumultuous and important events in Singapore’s history, and has architectural value that merits conservation.
Its designation, however, also raises questions on the decision-making process and rationale behind determining what buildings to recognise and protect.

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