Rumah Teh Bunga (GPS: 5.42182, 100.32793) or Floral Tea Mansion at 138 Hutton Lane is a stately double-storey historic bungalow in George Town. Built in the Malay Straits Eclectric style, it resembles the architecture of the Syed Alatas Mansion. It was given the name "Teh Bunga" due to the choice of colour for its exterior. The house was registered as a heritage building under the National Heritage Act 2005 in 2009.
Rumah Teh Bunga was built circa 1893 by a prominent Malay trader, M.Z. Merican, who is the son-in-law of Mohamed Ariff Mohamed Tajoodin, one of the richest Jawi Peranakan in the late 19th century (read also Mohd Ariff Mansion, Hutton Lane, Ariffin Court, Ariffin Road and Masjid Wan Chik Ariffin). According to the Jabatan Warisan Negara1, however, one Tuan Abdul Wabab was the original owner.
Teh Bunga Mansion (6 December 2009)
The Jawi Peranakan are Malays who whose ancestrial blood traces back to outside Penang, to Jawa, Kedah and even to Arabia. The house has elements reflective of a wealthy Jawi Peranakan residence, such as the crescent moon and star at the pediment. In keeping with a tropical climate where air conditioning was not yet in use, the house has air vents to allow the circulation and movement of air. It was name the Teh Bunga Mansion due to its ochre hue, and also, because the owner happened to also be known by the same nickname.
The Teh Bunga Mansion was bought over by one Tan Chong Keat at the turn of the 20th century, and remained a Chinese residence for several generations until it was bought over by the National Heritage Department (Jabatan Warisan Negara) via the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage, which bequeathed it to Amanah Raya Berhad as the real estate trustee. The intention was to turn it into the Penang Malay Gallery. Conservation work on the mansion began in 2007, over a good 18 months, and at a cost of around Restoration work included replacing parts that have been damaged, and strengthening the structure. As far as possible, the original tiles are retained.
A tour of the house shows how the 19th century lifestyle is readapted to 21st century way of life. The stable, for example, is now used as the garage. The house is divided into several sections, or blocks. It comprises the main house, the link, the kitchen annex, and the garage. At time of writing (Dec 2009), the front portion of the mansion is being planned for a gallery showcasing the Malays in Penang. The back portion of the house will serve as an office for the National Heritage Department.
After the initial restoration of 2009, Rumah Teh Bunga remained closed to the public until late 2015, when the Penang Malay Gallery finally opened to the public.
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