29 Jul 2014 – My Old School Grounds
Sun: CHIJ Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (圣婴女修院) and convent quarters known as Caldwell House (古德威尔屋), my school grounds from 1962-65 and relocated since 1985. This complex of convent buildings has a Gothic-style chapel. It was used as a Catholic convent for 132 years, with Caldwell House constructed in 1840–1841 and the chapel in 1904.
The chapel, now a multi-purpose hall, is known as CHIJMES Hall (赞美礼堂). Gone are the days where we used to attend masses every 1st Fridays of the month in this location.
MRT offices have taken over the assembly Hall and the old classrooms near the chapel.
Both the chapel and Caldwell House (now an art gallery), have both been gazetted as national monuments; Caldwell House was where I have been frequently summoned by Rev Mother for climbing the spiral staircases + many other reasons! And those are still my favourite spiral staircases.
The complex has been restored for commercial since the 1980s for purposes as a dining, shopping and entertainment centre with ethnic restaurants, shops and a function hall, providing a backdrop for musicals, recitals, theatrical performances and weddings.
At present CHIJMES is undergoing more revamps and most of the little shops (as you enter from the Gate of Hope) have closed. More eateries and bars have taken over. This was the area where the orphans were and those memories + the memories from the CHIJ days are deep and will need a whole book if words are involved…
B/W pix uploaded from Convent Chronicles by 3 ex-CHIJ/Victoria St girls, Lily Kong, Lee Siew Hua and Jacqueline Yip.
Thanks to Clem for the dinner in the area that lead to this revisit.
That was life condensed in microfilm; every detail intact, and barely remembered – Lee Siew Hua