White House Park

White House Park is an estate in District 10 on White House Park Road and Dalvey Road. It lies within one of the 39 Good Class Bungalow Areas designated by the Ministry of National Development in 1980. In these areas, bungalow development requirements stipulate a minimum plot size of 1,400 sq m and a maximum two-storey height.1 These requirements ensure that the exclusivity and low-rise character of the area are preserved. In 1991, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) earmarked some areas, including the White House Park and Nassim Road area, for conservation.

White House Park once stood on a vast 54-acre nutmeg and betel nut plantation owned by Gilbert Angus (1815–87), who was a bookkeeper but later ventured into business as an auctioneer. By 1862, he had sold the White House Park area to insurance firm Reme Leveson & Company. The next known proprietor was John Fraser of Fraser & Neave, who was involved in many diverse businesses. He had formed a company with James Cumming, called Fraser & Cumming, to make bricks and carry out development in the White House Park area.3

Originally, there were four houses in White House Park estate, which had all been built in the 19th century. The first, White House, had possibly been built by Angus as it had been in existence when he sold the White House Park area to Reme Leveson & Company in 1862. Fraser built the other three houses: Glencaird in 1897, and possibly Cree Hall and Sentosa between 1875 and 1880. Fraser had lived in Cree Hall. In 1908, Mansfield & Company purchased the estate and, in the 1920s, erected a few more houses as staff quarters. It is not known when White House and Sentosa were demolished but Cree Hall was demolished sometime after 1967 when the Housing and Development Board acquired the land.4 Subsequently, the estate saw further development, including a 35-unit luxury housing project by United Overseas Land (UOL) in 1979.5

Of the four original houses in White House Park estate, only Glencaird remains today.The house has retained its original features despite alterations carried out throughout the years. It was designed by Regent Alfred John Bidwell of Swan & Maclaren and was unusually asymmetrical, with its entrance located at a corner instead of the centre of the house. It also featured a turret-style three-storey stair hall.7

From 1938, the Glencaird, then located at 11 Dalvey Road, served as the residence of Italian Consul-General A. Perego and his family.8 In 1946, the government of Australia bought Glencaird and its surrounding land, totalling 6 acres,and it became the official residence of the Australian High Commissioner, Claude Massey, and his family.9 Glencaird was one of the bungalows that had been given conservation status by URA in 1991. The Australian High Commission put up 194,139 square feet of land, consisting of three units – 75 Dalvey Road (Glencaird), 79 Dalvey Road and 7 White House Park – for sale in 1994 while retaining 58,000 square feet for a new residence for the High Commissioner. This was sold to Wheelock Properties in 1996.10 Based on the minimum plot size of 15,000 sq ft for each bungalow, it was estimated that 12 bungalows could be developed on the plot. Since Glencaird had conservation status, this meant that 11 bungalows could be built.11 Wharf Holdings bought the freehold site for S$98 million and Marco Polo Developments became its developer. Wharf and Marco Polo are part of Hong Kong’s Wheelock Group.12

A 12-unit development, Glencaird Residences was completed in 1999. The new bungalows were designed by Argentinian Ernesto Bedmar, and reflected a tropical architecture that was clean and elegant. The restored Glencaird had a price tag in the region of S$22 million, while the other 11 new units were priced at an average of S$14 million each. As Glencaird was allocated about 22,000 square feet of land out of the whole development, some ad-hoc additions made to the house over the years had to be removed during its restoration. Many trees were also retained within the estate due to the area’s status as a gazetted tree conservation area.13 In 2007, after eight years of vacancy, Glencaird was finally sold to a mystery Singaporean buyer at a record price of close to S$29 million,14 becoming the most expensive good class bungalow in Singapore then.15

Glencaird Residences has received accolades due to its workmanship. In 2000, the Glencaird, now situated at 15 White House Park, was awarded the URA Architectural Heritage Award for its quality restoration.16 Sysma Construction, the builder of Glencaird Residences, also clinched the Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) construction excellence awards in 2001 for “quality workmanship, labour – and time-saving methods – and its ability to work around restrictions”.17

Marsita Omar and Goh Lee Kim

1. “Govt Sets Aside 39 Areas Just for Bungalows,” Straits Times, 22 June 1980, 11; Arthur Sim, “In a Class of Their Own,” Business Times, 16 July 2009, 28; Joyce Khor and Teo Li Kim, “Outperformers: Good Class Bungalows,” Business Times, 23 March 2000, 32. (From NewspaperSG)
2. Lee Han Shih and Michelle Low, “Posh Residential Areas Chosen for Conservation,” Business Times, 9 March 1991, 16. (From NewspaperSG)
3. Lee Kip Lin, The Singapore House, 1819–1942 (Singapore: Times Edition, 2015), 107, 178. (Call no. RSING 728.095957 LEE)
4. Lee, Singapore House, 1819–1942, 63, 178.
5. Tsang Sau Yin, “Gracious and Spacious Living at White House Park,” Business Times, 30 June 1979, 15. (From NewspaperSG)
6. Kalpana Rashiwala, “Five Bungalows in Glencaird Residences Sold,” Straits Times, 5 April 1997, 46 (From NewspaperSG); Lee, Singapore House, 1819–1942, 178.
7. Melody Zaccheus, “$29M for a Piece of Singapore History,” Straits Times, 2 September 2007, 6 (From NewspaperSG); Lee, Singapore House, 1819–1942, 178.
8. “Italian Consul,” Sunday Tribune, 13 November 1938, 10; “Italian Naval Visitors Entertained by Consul,” Malaya Tribune, 10 November 1938, 20; “New Premises for Italian Consulate,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 23 August 1938, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
9. Jaime Lee, “The Perfect Place for a Party,” Business Times, 9 September 1999, 16; “Big Real Estate Deals in Store,” Straits Times, 7 November 1946, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
10. Zaccheus, “$29M for a Piece of Singapore History”; Lee and Low, “Posh Residential Areas Chosen for Conservation”; “Embassy Properties Fetch Record Prices,” Straits Times, 11 October 1994, 40; Abdul Hadhi, “Hong Leong, Wharf Set New Records for Residential Land,” Business Times, 11 October 1994, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
11. “Aussie High Comm’s Glencaird Site Draws 11 Bids,” Business Times, 8 October 1994, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
12. Corrine Kerk, “Glencaird Residences’ Tropical Elegance,” Business Times, 26 August 1999, 17 (From NewspaperSG); Rashiwala, “Five Bungalows in Glencaird Residences Sold”; Diana Oon, “Wharf to Borrow $190M to Develop Luxury Bungalows,” Business Times, 20 July 1996, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
13. Kerk, “Glencaird Residences’ Tropical Elegance”; Desmond Ng, “Too Much White Space, New Paper, 27 July 2000, 11. (From NewspaperSG)
14. Zaccheus, “$29M for a Piece of Singapore History.”
15. Fiona Chan, “Good Class Bungalow Sold for Record $29M,” Straits Times, 30 August 2007, 63; Uma Shankari, “Top-End Bungalows Going, Going, Gone,” Business Times, 18 June 2009, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
16. “Architectural Heritage Awards,” Urban Redevelopment Authority Singapore, 2021.
17. “Conservation Project Bags Building Award,” Straits Times, 12 May 2001, 7. (From NewspaperSG)

The information in this article is valid as at April 2021 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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