King Yin Lei

 

The magnificent mansion located at 45 Stubbs Road was up for tender in early 2004, which closed on 8th June. Estate agents said it was highly likely that the new buyer would demolish the property and redevelop it given the recovered property market. The Conservancy Association, a strong advocate of the historical heritage, wrote to the then Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho in April requesting him to consider declaring the mansion as a monument in his capacity as the Antiquities Authority. The Association also organized the "Save King Yin Lei Campaign" in June and generated society-wide discussion. The owner told the media that he would not sell the building for the moment in June 2004.


There was a change of ownership in August 2007. The Conservation Association wrote to Carrie Lam, the Secretary for Development in early August requesting her to declare the mansion as a proposed monument in her capacity as the Antiquities Authority under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance; we also suggested to the Antiquities Advisory Board to grade the building. In the letter dated 13 August, the Development Bureau revealed that the Antiquities and Monuments Office was “in the process of conducting a detailed research with a view to ascertaining the heritage value of the building such that an appropriate way for its preservation could be devised.”

Regrettably it was discovered on 11 September 2007 that the mansion was being dismantled. In the following three days, the green tiles, the sphere-shaped decoration on the main roof, the window frames as well as the red brick wall surfaces were destroyed. The Conservancy Association wrote to the Development Bureau immediately and reiterated our demand; we then staged a petition on 13 outside the Central Government Offices. After a special meeting with the Antiquities Advisory Board, Carrie Lam announced that King Yin Lei at 45 Stubbs Road would be declared as a proposed monument after the decision was gazetted the day after.




The Administration declared the 1937-built private property at 128 Pokfulam Road as a Proposed Monument; the 1936 built Morrison Building with Hoh Fuk Tong Centre, also a private property, was declared as a monument in March 2004. Even thought the Administration managed to conserve a handful of private properties with historical value, nothing could prevent similar buildings from demolition if a fair and transparent grading and compensation mechanism was not implemented.

The mansion, built in 1937, sits on a 50 650 square feet site. The three-storey building is a “red bricks and green tiles" mansion of Chinese Renaissance or Chinese Neo Classical Style, which reinterprets traditional Chinese architectural form in the light of western design techniques. A private garden festooned with bonsai plants, various pavilions and terraces encircles the mansion. It has been a scenic spot for mainland and overseas tourists. The legendary TV series "Yesterday's Glitter" starring Lisa Wong and the 1955 Hollywood movie "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing" was shot in the mansion.