Teh Bunga Mansion (GPS: 5.42182, 100.32793) at 138 Hutton Lane is a stately double-storey historic building in George Town. Built in the Malay Straits Eclectric style it resembles that of Syed Alatas Mansion.
According to one source, the Teh Bunga Mansion 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). Another source mentions one Tuan Abdul Wabab as the original owner.
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). Conservation work on the mansion began in 2007, over a good 18 months, and at a cost of around RM2 million. The building was then handed over to Amanah Raya Berhad as trustee. The 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. Since then, nothing much has materialized, and as of this update (January 2014), the heritage building remains "temporarily closed".
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