Emerald Hill, Singapore
Emerald Hill is a neighbourhood and a conservation area located in the planning areas of Newton and Orchard in Singapore. Former home to many members of the city-state's wealthy Peranakan community, it is located near Orchard Road. Many of its homes feature Chinese Baroque architecture. Emerald Hill is also the setting for some of the short stories by the late Singaporean author Goh Sin Tub. Many of the homes were designed by Mr R T Rajoo (Rethinam Thamby Rajoo Pillay) a prominent architect of those days who died in 1928 at his home in Tank Road, Singapore.
The Emerald Hill area was originally owned by William Cuppage, a postal clerk who rose to become the acting Postmaster General in the 1840s. Cuppage first leased Emerald Hill in 1837 and in 1845 secured a permanent grant for his nutmeg plantation, which failed in the 1860s because of disease.
Cuppage himself moved from his residence in Hill Street to Emerald Hill in the early 1850s and lived in the area till his death in 1872. Here he built two houses (Erin Lodge and Fern Cottage) where he lived. After his death, Cuppage's plantation was left to his daughters and in 1890 it was sold to one of his sons-in-law, the lawyer Edwin Koek.
Koek turned the area into an orchard and built another house on the estate, called Claregrove. Koek's orchard venture failed, however, and he went bankrupt. The property was then sold to Thomas E. Rowell in 1891.
By the turn of the twentieth century, the 13.2 hectare land and its three houses (Erin, Fern and Claregrove) were the property of Seah Boon Kang and Seah Boon Kiat. In 1901, they subdivided the property into 38 plots and these were further subdivided, forming the land area of the terrace houses in Emerald Hill Road.
All three houses were subsequently demolished: Fern Cottage in 1906 made way for terrace houses; in 1924 Claregrove gave way to the Singapore Chinese Girls' School; Erin Lodge was replaced with more terrace houses.
Roads on Emerald Hill
Emerald Hill Road
Emerald Hill Road was laid out in 1901 and the current terrace houses alongside the road were built between 1901 and 1925.
Hullet Road was built in 1914 and named after R.W. Hullet, principal of Raffles Institution from 1871 and later Director of Public Instruction on his departure from Singapore in 1906 after having stayed here for 35 years. His name is also commemorated in Raffles Institution in the form of a Hullet Scholarship awarded since 1908. The road was named after Hullet at the request of Dr Lim Boon Keng, who was Hullet's pupil.
Saunders Road was named in 1927 after the British colonial officer, Charles James Saunders. Saunders held several official appointments. He was District Judge (1908), Registrar of Companies and Official Assignee (1915) and Secretary for Chinese Affairs, Straits Settlements (1922). He was also a member of the Legislative Council.
Emerald Hill in literature and art
- Emily of Emerald Hill (1983), by Stella Kon
- The Nan-Mei-Su Girls of Emerald Hill (1989), by Goh Sin Tub
- The Ghost Lover of Emerald Hill, by Goh Sin Tub
- On This Emerald Hill, written by Jonathan Lim, directed by Christina Seargant
Residents of Emerald Hill Road
- Victor R Savage, Brenda S A Yeoh (2004), Toponymics – A Study of Singapore Street Names, Eastern University Press, ISBN 981-210-364-3
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