Typical of the area and period, the Waterloo Street of colonial times was a fringe urban area where the affluent constructed private residences, many in the style of bungalows.
Architecturally, this particular bungalow is symmetrical, boasting high ceilings and tall windows that shield occupants from the harshness of tropical weather. Beyond its walls is a garden compound with an ornate brick and plaster wall and a wrought iron gate. Till today, many of its traditional mouldings and embellishments have been retained.
The earliest recorded mentions of the venue include two reports of persons being arrested for gambling-related charges. The first report was made in 1899, involved 20 Russian Jews and was dismissed on the basis of having insufficient evidence. The defence’s lawyer argued that whilst the building’s occupants at the time were seen playing cards upon the police’s entry, it did not constitute gambling.
However, the second report, made in 1908, was much shorter, simply reporting 19 Chinese men being fined $3 dollars each for gambling, and the house’s owner fined $75.
Before the National Arts Council’s Arts Housing programme in 1994, the only other mention of the site appears to be an advertisement listing Lian Hup Co, a provider of upholstery services, furniture design and manufacturing as the site’s occupants.
Subsequently, the Singapore Calligraphy Society renovated and refurnished the bungalow at 48 Waterloo Street to the tune of $1.31 million. The building was reopened in 1996 by then Minister for Home Affairs and Deputy Chairman of the People’s Association Wong Kan Seng.
The Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore
This non-profit organisation was established in 1968 and has since driven the development of calligraphy in Singapore and abroad, earning international recognition for Singaporean calligraphy through demonstrations, exhibitions and competitions. For many in the international calligraphy community, this site is regarded as home.
Through the decades, it has nurtured over 20,000 calligraphy enthusiasts through classes, international promotions and competitions. One in particular is the National Hui Chun Calligraphy competition, which is directed at locals. Since 1983, the number of participants has grown from 70 to 1300.
Buildings and sites featured on Roots.SG are part of our efforts to raise awareness of our heritage; a listing on Roots.SG does not imply any form of preservation or conservation status, unless it is mentioned in the article. The information in this article is valid as of August 2019 and is not intended to be an exhaustive history of the site/building.