I remember teasing readers in a blog post some time ago with three photos of the interior of a boutique hotel in Penang. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the time to follow up on the story.
Today, however, there's time for me to reveal that the photos were of the former Pin Kung Hotel & Chinese Restaurant in Hutton Lane. Of course, this hotel no longer exists. In its place stands the new Hutton Lodge: same building, different name but totally rebuilt and renovated.
It's a strikingly beautiful double storey building of brick masonry which opens out onto two roads. The front is set back from Hutton Lane with a compound in front and on both sides. Fenced in by a low brick wall with a gate on both sides, it is also flanked by commercial buildings and double-storey pre-war shophouses. The back of the building is attached to a two-storey annex with a rear door to Dickens Street.
The house originally belonged to an Indian Muslim family who sold it to a Mr Wong Ah Sam in 1925. Ownership was later transferred to Cheah Cheang Lim. The property was acquired by the present owners in 1948 and used as the Pin Kung Hotel. The house was later tenanted to many sub-tenants subjected to the Rent Control Act, resulting in rapid dilapidation of the property. After the repeal of the Act, the building was destroyed by fire on 18 Feb 2003.
The building at 17 Hutton Lane is one of a few surviving bungalow sites in George Town. A number of similar bungalows can be found in Chulia Street, all of which are now used as budget hotels. The porte cochere is supported by two poles of circular brick columns. A row of jalousies (louvred window shutters) line the upper floor facade. Due to its social history, architecture and town setting significance, its now categorised as a heritage conservation building.