Nam Koo Terrace is a Grade I Historic Building located at No. 55 Ship Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, China, popularly known as “The Wan Chai Haunted House”.
The two-storey red brick building was built in c.1915-1921 and owned by a wealthy Shanghai merchant family by the name of To (杜).
Prominent Hong Kong businessman To Chun-man (杜仲文) first leased the land lot where the building now stands in 1915. At this stage To Chun-man held the position of Chief Chinese Silks Salesman (專理紗羅綢緞員) for Wing On Company Limited (永安有限公司), although he was later promoted to Assistant Manager (副司理). He also held several posts in various community committees including that of Secretary (司理) for the Commercial Chamber of The Heung Shan District (香邑僑商會所), and was a member of The Chinese General Chamber of Commerce (華商總會).
However, To Chun-man was forced to evacuate the mansion at the onset of the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, and he died soon after his return. It is said that during the occupation, Nam Koo Terrace was used as a military brothel or “comfort house (慰安所)” for the Japanese soldiers from 1941 to 1945. Many other properties within the Wan Chai area were also used as brothels by the Japanese military during this period, including St. Luke’s College and neighbouring Tung Chi College.
Nam Koo Terrace continued to remain under the ownership of the To family until 1988, when the property was sold to YUBA Co. Ltd.
Hopewell Holdings took over ownership of the building in 1993, which was initially acquired to be demolished in order to make way for their Mega Tower hotel project. However, the site has stood vacant since then; despite the fact that the company’s development proposal gained Government approval in 1994. While Hopewell Holdings remains the current proprietor of Nam Koo Terrace; in December 2008, public announcements indicate that their intentions have now shifted to the preservation of this historical site and will open for public once the conservation is completed.
Photo source: e123.hk