Archive for the ‘Middle Road’ Category

Old St Anthony’s Convent

October 22, 2008

Ask anyone and most people will be able to tell you that present-day CHIJMES, sited at Victoria Street, was formerly a convent known as CHIJ (Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus). Unlike CHIJ at Victoria Street which has been preserved and transformed into a place for high-end shopping and fine dining within the shopping belt, there is another convent located nearby where the school building did not share much popularity and fanfare today but still held a rich history. Located at No.111 Middle Road, the school building known as St Anthony’s Convent, still stands today but to much emptiness.

Map location: Old St Anthony’s Convent at No.111 Middle Road.

^ Opposite the old St Anthony’s Convent, three shop units selling party stuff formerly from the Concourse have relocated to Middle Road. All the kiddy party needs can be found here. From party hats to gift bags, a place your kids will love to browse for his/her next birthday party.

^ A group of girls from St Anthony’s Convent (L-R: Joyce Ho, Betty Chin, Catherine Leow, Agnes Low, Janice Wong) which was the first women’s team that participated in the Free Press Big Walk. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore, circa 1961)

^ A present-day photo of the exterior of old St Anthony’s Convent. The embedded Cross still remains with the flagpoles.

^ The stretch of the exterior of the school building along Middle Road.

^ A passageway on the exterior of the school.

In Aug 1879, the priest of St Joseph’s Church (the Church still exist today and is located just next to the old school building), Father Jose Pedro Santo Anna de Cunha, decided to set up a school for the poor children of the parish. The school started with an enrolment of just 6 students, and was known as St Anna’s School.

^ An old undated photo of St Anthony’s Convent. (Photocredit: SACSS)

^ Present day.

^ The courtyard where school assembly took place. The Cross symbolising Christianity with two flag-poles. One flew the National flag while the other flew the school flag.

^ A view of the courtyard which is about the size of two badminton courts laid out lengthwise.

^ Christmas celebration with the handicapped at St Anthony’s Convent. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore, circa 1975). Did you notice the old film camera and the aerated bottled drinks from F&N (Fraser & Neave) in the photo? Take note of the design of the floor tiles.

^ An empty corridor with a staircase at the end leading to the upper floors. The floor tiles have remained the same since then.

^ Once bustling with the chatter of the pupils, the building today remain quiet except for the sound of traffic outside.

As the years passed, enrolment increased. In 1894, the girls came under St Anthony’s Girls School while the boys formed the population of St Anthony’s Boys School. The Canossian nuns managed St Anthony’s Girl’s School where the girls were given basic education and technical skills. Apart from the academics, technical skills such as sewing and embroidery were also taught to equip them with skills to land a job when they grow up.

In 1906, the school was known as St Anthony’s Convent. During World War II, the Japanese Occupation of Singapore (1942-1945), the school became a refuge for the sick and the homeless.

On 4th Aug 1979, Dr Toh Chin Chye (Minister for Health) made a speech during the centenary celebrations of St Anthony’s Boys School and St Anthony’s Convent. Here’s an excerpt of his speech.

Read the rest of the history of St Anthony’s Convent.

^ The statue of St Anthony which can be seen along Middle Road.

^ The old school building of St Anthony’s Convent still stands today and is presently occupied by…

^ …the Chinese Opera Institute.

^ Side-entrance from Queen Street leading into the school compound. Gone are the sounds of excited chatter that onced passed this way.

^ A map showing the location where the old St Anthony’s Convent and St Anthony’s Boys School once stood. If you happen to be passing that area, perhaps you like to find out what is the name of the building that presently sits on the site of old St Anthony’s Boys School. What happened to St Anthony’s Boys School?

The girls of St Anthony’s Convent, in their light blue pinafore and white blouse, no longer commute to their school at Middle Road. In 1995, the school was relocated to a bigger site at Bedok North Avenue 4 with better amenities to accomodate the large student population. The primary and secondary level each has their own respective school wings all within the same compound.

I’m sure the school’s motto in Latin “VIA, VERITAS, VITA” in English that means the “Way, Truth, Life” carried in the hearts of these convent girls have guided them well in their life’s journey.

Were you a convent girl from SAC who studied at the old school premises at Middle Road? What unforgettable memories hold for you during your time there?

Added on 25th Aug 2009:
I am adding a comment to this main post page which is from the Canossian Alumni Association that provides more information about the Canossian spirituality and her set up.

Canossian Alumni Association Says:
August 24, 2009 at 11:11 pm

Thank you for featuring SACPS and SACSS. It brings back fond memories for all Canossians at 111 Middle Road. Canossian Alumni Association is the official alumni connecting the 3 Canossian Schools: Canossa Convent Pri, SAC Pri and SAC Sec. Whilst we are a small community in Singapore, our Italian roots cross 35 countries. Our school motto Via Veritas Vita is embedded in Canossian schools across the network eg Sacred Heart Canossian College in HK etc. It is named St Anthony’s Convent in the early years 1879 as the Canossian Sisters in Singapore belonged to the province of St Anthony. Whilst we are a small community in Singapore, we do not seek to compare ourselves with any others who are perceived to be more popular. We remain close to the Canossian Sisters and ensure that the mission of our school foundress St Magdalene of Canossa stay true to its roots.


David Elias building 1928

October 3, 2008

Situated at the junction of Middle Road and Short Street, an old building known as David Elias building still stands today. Built in 1928 by a Jewish merchant, the design of this building was commissioned to Swan & Maclaren where the neo-classical style of architecture, popular in the 1920s, can be seen today.

^ Map location: No.270 Middle Road

^ An old photograph of David Elias building taken in 1986 overlooking Middle Road and Selegie Road (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore). The building was also a hotel known as “Sun Sun Hotel”. At the main entrance on the ground floor, you will notice the signboard “Sun Sun Restaurant & Bar”. Just across Selegie Road on the left of the photograph was the restaurant known as “Prince Room Restaurant” located at Selegie Complex.

^ David Elias buiding which still stands today though much of her grandeur have faded away.

^ At the top of the building carried the inscription “David Elias Building 1928” with the prominent Jewish symbol of the Star of David as well as the name of her previous tenant “Sun Sun Hotel”.

^ Much of the ground floor area of the building is presently occupied by eateries and trading companies.

^ On the other side of the building facing Short Street – Rochor Original Beancurd since 1960.

^ Just a few steps from David Elias building facing Short Street is a little church for worshippers – Tamil Methodist Church.

^ Remember Selegie Complex with “Prince Room Restaurant” seen in the first photo above? It has been demolished making way for another brand new establishment.

^ Peace Centre…still very much around.

When you have the opportunity to pass by David Elias building, you may like to give the eateries located on the ground floor a try, knowing that it was built in 1928.

Middle Road Church

September 19, 2008

Not in the sense of a church being sited in the middle of the road. If you happen to travel along Middle Road which intersects with Waterloo Street, an orange coloured building may have caught your attention. With banners adorned in front of the building and a few sculptures near its entrance, you could have guessed that this building is home to the arts of some sort. An old building with a history was given a new splash of bright orange paint which was once commonly known as…Middle Road Church.

^ Map location: No.155, Middle Road.

^ Walking along Waterloo Street towards the intersection with Middle Road, the bright orange building comes into view.

^ You definitely can’t miss it.

This small building was built between 1870-1875. It was first known as The Christian Institute where young men gathered for recreational activities and daily worship. Under her trustee Charles Phillip, the Methodist community were invited to use the premises. Its occupants included MGS (Methodist Girls School) as well as the Straits Chinese who formed the Methodist Missionaries in 1890. The building was officially inaugurated as the Malay Church in 1894 and became the first Straits Chinese Methodist Church in Singapore. The building remained so, serving as a church until 1929, when the congregation moved to Kampong Kapor (now known as Kampong Kapor Methodist Church) due to a need for a larger place to accommodate the growing community.

During the period of World War II, it was understood that the building was converted to a Chinese restaurant called May Blossom Restaurant. After the war, it became a motor-workshop and parking area. I remembered this well because during my school days at SJI in the ‘70s, I had to commute via bus service 150 which ply the route that passed by this building. The sound from hammering tools, power-drills, mechanics at work with black greasy hands, and various vehicle parts strewn around the premises was a sight I have not forgotten.

^ The main entrance.

^ An arts housing project of the National Arts Council.

^ A bit of her history.

Today, this small building had been given a new lease of life to showcase the arts. Officially opened in 1999, its aim is not just to become an arts hub showcasing the works of local and international artists. But striving to be a regional arts hub for contemporary 3-dimensional artworks. If you have the time, perhaps you may like to head on down to Sculpture Square at No.155 Middle Road.

^ Once known as Middle Road Church…now known as Sculpture Square.

Enjoy a quiet and cozy rest and refreshments at My Secret Garden located just behind the building.

Wishing you pleasant visit to this little building of history.