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Morrison Building in Hoh Fuk Tong Centre Declared Proposed Monument


The Secretary for Home Affairs, in his capacity as the Antiquities Authority under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance, Cap 53, has decided to declare the Morrison Building in Hoh Fuk Tong Centre, Tuen Mun, a Proposed Monument with effect from today (April 11).

The declaration, which is published in today's Gazette, will have effect for 12 months.

"This will give the historical building temporary statutory protection from demolition to enable the Government to negotiate with the owner with a view to reaching a consensus on its preservation," a Government spokesman said.

The owner of the Centre, the Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ in China, submitted to the Buildings Department in early March, 2003 an application to demolish the Centre. The application is being considered by the Building Authority. Of all the buildings in the Centre, the Morrison Building is considered by the Antiquities Advisory Board the most important in terms of heritage value.

Concerned about the demolition plan, the Tuen Mun District Council also discussed the matter last month. It supported preservation of the Morrison Building.

The spokesman explained: "Under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance, the Morrison Building, once declared as a Proposed Monument, may not be demolished during the declaration period except with a permit from the Secretary for Home Affairs in his capacity as the Antiquities Authority."

"The declaration will not affect the use of the building. Neither will it affect property ownership," the spokesman said.

Under Section 2C of the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance, the owner or lawful occupier of private land within which a Proposed Monument has been declared may apply to the Antiquities Authority for withdrawal of the declaration and may also by petition to the Chief Executive to object to the declaration. Section 8 of the Ordinance provides for the owner or lawful occupier to claim compensation if eligible.

The Morrison Building was built in 1936 by General Cai Tingjie (1892 - 1968), Army Commander of the famous Nineteenth Corps in the Anti-Japanese War of 1937 – 1945, as part of his villa. The villa was used as school premises of the Dade Institute between 1946 and 1949. The Dade Institute was a tertiary education institution founded under the directive of ZHOU Enlai and DONG Bi-wu. Since its establishment, many renowned scholars had resided and given lectures there. The Morrison Building is currently used by the owner as a retreat centre.

The architectural characteristics of the building are rather unique. It is rendered with Shanghai plaster and designed in Art Deco style, and has a green glazed Chinese tiled hipped roof decorated with dragon shaped ornaments at four corners, representing a harmonious blend of Chinese and Western styles not commonly found in Hong Kong nowadays.

"Taking into consideration the historical and architectural value of the Morrison Building, as well as the community's aspiration for heritage protection, the building is certainly worth preserving."

"We hope to be able to reach a mutually acceptable preservation proposal," the spokesman said.

End/Friday, April 11, 2003

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