100 steps to Sophia

Imagine having to trudge up 100 steps to reach your school and down again everyday. It sure builds up your stamina and leg muscles which many girls have experienced in the course of their studies at Mount Sophia. Not a mountain comparing to the likes of Mount Everest or Bukit Timah Hill. Rather, it was the 100 steps that one has to climb by way of the entrance at Handy Road that was once a building of an all-girls school known as Methodist Girls’ School.

^ Handy Road. A short stretch of road from Cathay Building to Plaza Singapura where the 100 steps is located.

^ Map location: Former Methodist Girls’ School located at No.11 Mount Sophia.

^ At the base of the 100 steps. In the past, it was just the rugged steps surrounded by shrubs. Now, a spanking new residential condominium is built alongside the 100 steps.

^ The steps have been improved with an overhead shelter and handrail to cater to the needs of residents and other users.

^ Imagine the elation you feel after having reached the top of the 100 steps. A building comes into view which was the former Methodist Girls’ School.

Methodist Girls’ School was founded by Miss Sophia Blackmore on 15th Aug 1887. She was a missionary from Australia who came to Singapore with a mission – to provide girls with an education. With support from the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America, the school had its humble and modest orgins with a handful of students at Short Street. With rising enrolment, the school was relocated to Middle Road. It was only in 1925 that the school had its premises at No.11 Mount Sophia.

^ The buildng of the school at Mount Sophia still remains today but the girls of Methodist Girls’ School no longer need to trudge up and down the 100 steps. The school has been relocated to its present site at No.11 Blackmore Drive in 1992. The present address of the school was so named in commemoration of her founder Miss Sophia Blackmore. The building which was formerly Methodist Girls’ School is now known as Old School, a centre for the Arts.

^ A file photo showing Mrs H.B. Amstutz opening the the new Louise Mackee Wing of Methodist Girls’ School at Mount Sophia. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore, circa 1955)

^ A view of the Louise Mackee Wing at Methodist Girls’ School at Mount Sophia. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore, circa 1955)

^ Present-day photo of the Louise Mackee Wing at Mount Sophia.

^ The open courtyard seen in the photo would probably have been the courtyard where games such as netball, basketball etc were played amid much shouting, screaming and cheering.

^ You cannot miss sighting this bright red sculpture on the premises of Old School.

^ A centre for budding film directors wannabes at Sinema @ Old School.

^ Some prominent buildings nearby – MacDonald House and Plaza Singapura.

Read more about the history of Methodist Girls’ School. I’m sure these 100 steps to Mount Sophia brings back fond memories to the old girls of MGS who had studied there. For me. it’s another ardous 100 steps down memory lane for the descent.


17 Responses to “100 steps to Sophia”

  1. yg Says:

    when my elder girl was having voice lesson at a house along sophia road in the late 90s, i used to use this flight of steps that led to the car-park at plaza singapura. i wonder if they are the same (100) steps you are talking about.
    i have been wanting to go to that area to check out some old buildings.

  2. Icemoon Says:

    Do you have vivid memories of MGS girls from your days at SJI? Or you can only remember St Nick girls? 😛

    The slope beside Louise Mackee Wing looks different in the old and present photo.

  3. ordinary guy Says:

    YG – I could not figure out any other route unless it was some man-made footpath which now could have been obliterated by the site where the present condominium now stands.

    Icemoon – Travelling to school by bus is always a colourful sight to behold. The bus route (bus service 140) plying from Toa Payoh to Bras Basah Road, many students whose school was located in town, used this service namely SCGS, MGS, Catholic High, CHIJ (Victoria Street), SAC. The present-day photo of the Louise Mackee Wing which I took was from a different angle snapped from the other end of the road.

  4. The Singapore Daily » Blog Archive » Daily SG: 16 Jan 2009 Says:

    […] Life, the universe and everything – The New Yorker: Letter from the Grave [Thanks Delvin] – Yesterday….Today….Tomorrow: 100 steps to Sophia […]

  5. Sgizh Says:

    YG: I know the steps you are talking about. It still existed as of 2-3 years ago. I don’t think it is the same steps in the picture, because those steps that ran to the carpark of plaza singapura ran along a fence. and was really wooded, unless all that has changed.

    I used to go there every week when I attended art lessons at the old NAFA campus on the top of the hill… good memories…

  6. Sgizh Says:

    BTW, I just wanted to say I love this blog (the history bits). I have always lamented the fact that Singapore doesn’t have history! Buildings get razed with little afterthought it makes me sad! I’m not even that old, but I remember lots of places/buildings and what used to be there and wished I had captured all those memories on film. Keep up the good work. I want to see more! More!=)

  7. ordinary guy Says:

    Hi Sgizh,

    Thanks for dropping by. I think this small little community of “old” bloggers like Lam CS, YG, Vickoo and many others can make something meaningful from our posts to share with others about our past experiences. Keep it up everyone.

  8. Icemoon Says:

    Maybe you oldies should blog about school uniforms and their evolution. At Sophia, they weren’t wearing the pinafore?

  9. yg Says:

    hi sgizh,
    thks for refreshing my memory. yes, there was a fence and some properties beyond the fence which belonged to the methodist church. i suppose when they sold the land on which the trinity college stood, they also sold these properties.

    i remember the old nafa san shan’s campus. i was bitten by a paria dog there once. fortunately, it was not infected by rabies.

    i think ‘the 100 steps’ to sophia was nearer to the cathay building and was used by the mgs students and later, the shatec students.

  10. ordinary guy Says:


    The blue pinafore and white blouse is the uniform synonymous with the convent schools.

  11. The Singapore Daily » Blog Archive » Weekly Roundup: Week 03 Says:

    […] Letter from the Grave [Thanks Delvin] [Recommended] – Yesterday….Today….Tomorrow: 100 steps to Sophia – The fire in my life: The real Chinatown of Singapore [Thanks […]

  12. Yau-ming Says:


    The new concrete steps number over 140. And they do not stand in the same spot as the original 100 steps. The latter is closer to Cathay Building – and might possibly be under National Heritage protection.

    The old (and more convenient) pathway that led to the carpark of Plaza Singapura is gone though – the apartment complex 8@SOPHIA was built over it.

    There is an old private sideroad that led to old houses. The road is still there but not the bungalows. It also leads to the back of the 2nd entrance to Plaza Singapura – near the Powerstation.

  13. ordinary guy Says:

    Hello Yau-ming,

    Thanks for the information. It will probably have to be renamed as the “140 steps to Sophia” given all the redevelopment along Handy Road. Yes, the exact location of the 100 steps have been totally obliterated. The surround area of Cathay Building is presently undergoing a lot of urban redevelopment especially at Kirk Terrace due to the building of SOTA (School Of The Arts). I guess we now have to climb an additional 40 step to get to the former MGS now known as Old School.

  14. Yau-ming Says:

    I wouldn’t give up hope. The old spiral 100 steps is probably still there – but you can’t see it due to the amount of construction going on. The new staircase ought to be called Jacob’s Ladder due to the ridiculously dangerous incline – and its probably closer to 200 steps.

  15. ting Says:

    the mg uniform is still the same(: plmg and mg diff!:D

  16. Dr. Khin Yi Oo Says:

    One day I chanced to glance at a documentary being aired on CNA and saw some familiar sights. I was happy and surprised to see my “old school”. It brought back fond memories. I had studied there in the mid sixties. I went back to Burma in 1968 when I was in Sec 1.Since then with my very good basic education from MGS, I have become a doctor and is now a Consultant Virologist working for my Govt. It was sad to know that my “old school” is no longer there but then glad that the “Old School” is there now being put into good and constructive use, still with the buildings preserved. Thank god it was not torn down for some condominium or shopping mall…Are there any friends out there who had studied there during my time – Primary 2 (1963) till Sec 1 (1968)? I was then Elizabeth Yi – a Burmese girl – brown and not tall. I remember friends whose surnames may have changed. Barbara Chee, Lydia Wong, Koh Boon Sim, Currie Chang, Dorathy Tay, Wong Mae Sim,Joyce Lim, Tay Chin Joo (swimming champ)…pls contact..just want to catch up.
    I also had climbed those steps before.

  17. Skin Moisturizers Says:

    my voice lessons were given to me by my aunt who also teaches some amateur pop singers to improve their voices ;;,

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