Hotel de la Paix
Hotel de la Paix was established in 1865, making it one of the earliest hotels to be set up in Singapore.1 It operated from Coleman House, the former personal residence of Singapore’s first superintendent of public works, G. D. Coleman (George Dromgold Coleman2), at 3 Coleman Street.3 It was billed as a first-class hotel in its heyday.4
Coleman arrived in Singapore in 1822, and was appointed superintendent of public works in 1833.5 In 1829, Coleman built a house at 3 Coleman Street for use as his personal residence.6 When he left Singapore in 1841, the landmark building was occupied by a succession of hotels and residences.7 The house was initially leased to Gaston Dutronquoy, Singapore’s first photographer, who turned it into London Hotel, which had been located on High Street.8 The premises were then taken over by Adelphi Hotel, before it was occupied by Hotel de la Paix in 1865, which had Mrs Kahlcke, a German widow, as its proprietor-cum-manager.9
Sometime in the 1880s, however, Coleman House became the home of Tan Yeok Nee (or Tan Hiok Nee), a wealthy Teochew merchant, until his mansion (present House of Tan Yeok Nee) off Tank Road was ready.10 During this period, the hotel operated from 1 Coleman Street.11
Hotel de la Paix later returned to Coleman House and remained there until 1914. As early as September 1914, the premises were advertised as suitable for use as either a hotel or boarding house.12
The last occupant of Coleman House before World War II was the Burlington Hotel.13 The building was demolished in 1965 and the Peninsula Shopping Centre currently occupies the site.14
Along with Raffles Hotel, Hotel de l’Europe and Adelphi Hotel, Hotel de la Paix was one of the main hotels in Singapore in the late 19th century.15
The two-storey brick mansion housing the hotel was seven bays wide and eight bays deep. It was a piazza-style building in a simple, classical design with tall and flat stuccoed pilasters. The building also had open verandahs and a porch.16
In advertisements placed in George Murray Reith’s Handbook to Singapore and in the 1902 edition of the Singapore and Straits Directory, Hotel de la Paix was described as a first-class hotel located in “one of the healthiest and most central localities of the city”, and “within easy distance of telegraph, post and other offices”. The advertisements also mentioned the hotel’s telephonic communication to all parts of the city; its unparalleled cuisine; quality wines and spirits; comfortable beds; and the well-furnished sitting rooms, showers, cold baths and billiard tables.17 The hotel rates were said to be reasonable and many residents of the town had stayed there.18
Joshua Chia Yeong Jia
1. Singapore Days of Old: A Special Commemorative History of Singapore Published on the 10th Anniversary of Singapore Tatler (Hong Kong: Illustrated Magazine Pub, 1992), 169. (Call no. RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS])
2. The correct spelling is Dromgold as appears in the marriage certificate of G. D. Coleman to Maria Frances Vernon dated 17 September 1842, St George’s Church, Hanover Square, London. See T. H. H. Hancock, Coleman's Singapore (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society in association with Pelanduk Publications, 1986), 87. (Call no. RSING 720.924 COL.H)
3. Ray Tyers and Siow Jin Hua, Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & Now (Singapore: Landmark Books, 1993), 48 (Call no. RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS]); George L. Peet, Rickshaw Reporter (Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, 1985), 130. (Call no. RSING 070.924 PEE)
4. G. M. Reith, Handbook to Singapore (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1985), 20. (Call no. RSING 959.57 REI-[HIS])
5. Tyers and Siow, Ray Tyers’ Singapore, 48.
6. “3, Coleman Street Link with Conrad,” Straits Times, 1 April 1954, 4; “$270,000 to Save House of History,” Straits Times, 10 November 1955, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
7. Tyers and Siow, Ray Tyers’ Singapore, 48.
8. “Last Look at the House that Coleman Built,” Straits Times, 5 December 1965, 4 (From NewspaperSG); Walter Makepeace, Gilbert E. Brooke and Roland St. J. Braddell, One hundred Years of Singapore, vol. 2 (London: J. Murray, 1921), 494. (Call no. RCLOS 959.51 MAK-[RFL])
9. “110-Year-Old Adelphi Hotel to Close Soon,” New Nation, 3 April 1973, 14; Gloria Chandy, “Cakes and Ale,” New Nation, 5 February 1979, 9 (From NewspaperSG); Friends of Singapore, The House in Coleman Street Singapore: Straits Times Press, 1958), 5. (Call no. RCLOS 728 FRI); Singapore Days of Old, 169.
10. Friends of Singapore,House in Coleman Street, 5; Dhoraisingam S. Samuel, Singapore’s Heritage: Through Places of Historical Interest (Singapore: Elixir Consultancy Service, 1991), 145 (Call no. RSING 959.57 SAM-[HIS]); “Townhouses of Ancient Chinese Towkays,” Straits Times, 29 November 1981, 48; “Finest House in Chinese Style,” Straits Times, 19 September 1937, 28. (From NewspaperSG)
11. Singapore and Straits Directory for 1889 (Singapore: Mission Press, 1889), 160. (Call no. RRARE 382.09595 STR; microfilm NL1178)
12. “Page 16 Advertisements Column 2,” Straits Times, 16 September 1914, 16; “Page 2 Advertisements Column 1,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), 22 October 1914, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
13. “For a Singapore Scrapbook,” Straits Times, 16 December 1946, 4; The Burlington,” Straits Times, 3 September 1946, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
14. “Last Look at the House”; Mok Sin Pin, “Peninsula Hotel All Set to Receive Guests,” Straits Times, 27 May 1974, 13. (From NewspaperSG)
15. Gretchen Liu, Singapore: A Pictorial History 1819–2000 (Singapore: Archipelago Press, 1999), 123. (Call no. RSING 959.57 LIU-[HIS])
16. Hancock, Coleman's Singapore, 43; Friends of Singapore,House in Coleman Street, 11.
17. Reith, Handbook to Singapore, 20; Singapore and Straits Directory for 1902 (Singapore: Mission Press, 1902), 3. (Call no. RRARE 382.09595 STR; microfilm NL1161)
18. Souvenir of Singapore: A Descriptive and Illustrated Guide Book of Singapore (Singapore: Straits Times Press, 1905), 139, 142. (Call no. RRARE 915.957 SOU; microfilm NL16348)
The information in this article is valid as of 2016 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.