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Mong Kok's historical Lui Seng Chun tenement donated to people of HK


Lui Seng Chun, a Grade I historical building and one of the few remaining "tong lau", or Chinese tenement, buildings in the city, was officially donated to the people of Hong Kong in a ceremony today (October 7).

The Secretary for Home Affairs, Dr Patrick Ho Chi-ping, received the lease of Lui Seng Chun from Mrs King-fong Wong Lui, Mr Charles Lui and Mr Lui Yin-tat, representing the family of Mr Lui Leung, the original owner of the 70-year-old, four-storey landmark located at 119 Lai Chi Kok Road, Mong Kok.

It is the first time in Hong Kong that a privately owned historical building has been unconditionally donated to the public for preservation purposes.

Speaking at the donation ceremony at the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware, Dr Ho noted that Lui Seng Chun had been classified as a Grade I historical building by the Antiquities Advisory Board in 2000 and deemed worthy of permanent preservation.

"We are most fortunate that the Lui family shares this ideal and has agreed to donate the property to the public for restoration and readaptation," he said.

"This is a precious gift, whose significance lies not so much in the value of the property as in the support shown by the Lui family for the conservation of heritage and monuments in Hong Kong.

"We treasure this donation indeed. Fully respecting the original style of the building, we will use Lui Seng Chun in a creative way to give it a new lease of life. In this way, we hope that our collective memories will become part of our modern life and our cultural traditions will be continued," said Dr Ho.

Lui Seng Chun was built around 1931 and belonged to Lui Leung, one of the founders of the Kowloon Motor Bus Company. A Chinese bone-setting shop named "Lui Seng Chun" originally occupied the ground floor, while the upper floors were the Lui family's living quarters.

Lui Leung passed away in 1944 and the shop closed a few years later. The building was subsequently used as living accommodations and let out as tailor shops. In 2000, the Lui family approached the Antiquities and Monuments Office to suggest donating the building to the Government.

After three years of discussion and study, the formalities are now completed and the building will be handed over to the Antiquities and Monuments Office to conduct the necessary repair works.

Lui Seng Chun combines the architectural characteristics of a typical Chinese tenement of the pre-war period with classical Italianate touches. It is a living testimony to the history of a well-respected family in Hong Kong, faithfully reflecting the community life, economic activities and architecture of an earlier era. Today, it is an instantly recognisable landmark in the Mong Kok and Sham Shui Po districts.

Lui Seng Chun's historical background and architectural merits offer much potential for creative readaptation. To fulfill this mission, the Government intends to give the building a second life as a hub for cultural and commercial development.

The Government will seek advice from the community and the business sector and also consult the Antiquities Advisory Board before deciding on the future use of the building. It will invite private sector initiatives with a view to making Lui Seng Chun into a place worthy of its history.

End/Tuesday, October 7, 2003

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