Former French Mission Building

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The Former French Mission Building in Central, Hong Kong.
The building in the late 19th century, then a residence of Augustine Heard and Company. St. John's Cathedral is visible on the left.
Back of the Former French Mission Building.
Entrance of the Court of Final Appeal (left).

The Former French Mission Building (Chinese: 前法國外方傳道會大樓) is a declared monument located on Government Hill at 1, Battery Path, Central, Hong Kong. It currently houses the Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong.[1]

Features[edit]

The building is built on a podium due to the hilly nature of Government Hill. Originally a mansion called Johnston House, the building was altered in the 1870s and 1880s to a three-storey building. The present three-storey building opened in 1917 as the result of a major renovation, also described as an "extensive rebuilding", of the previous structure.[2][3] The building is probably based on a previous structure near the site known as "Beaconsfield", but it is clad in red brick rather than an all white facade.[4] It is constructed in granite and red bricks in Neo-Classical style,[1] dating from the Edwardian period.[5]

History[edit]

The original structure on this site dated back to 1842.[5] The first Governor of Hong Kong, Sir Henry Pottinger resided there from 1843 to 1846. His successor, John Francis Davis also lived there for a while, before moving to Caine Road. The building likely served as one of the earlier homes of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong during this period (1843–1846). The building then had several owners, including Emanuel R. Belilios,[6] and was occupied among others by the tai-pans of Augustine Heard and Company, a trading firm that went bankrupt in 1876.[3] It was also used by HSBC and was once home to the Russian Consulate.

In 1915, it was acquired by the Paris Foreign Missions Society, which commissioned a major renovation. The architects were Leigh & Orange.[7] In the process, a chapel topped by a cupola was added in the north-west corner, and the building was refaced with red bricks. It reopened in 1917 and became known as the "French Mission Building".[2][3] In 1953, it was sold back to the Hong Kong Government.[2]

It was then used successively by the Education Department, the Victoria District Court (1965–1980), the Supreme Court (1980–1983), and the Government Information Services (starting from 1987). It has been used as the Court of Final Appeal since the inception of the Court at the time of the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong, on July 1, 1997.[1][8] Sometime after 2011, the court will then move to the current Legislative Council Building, formerly the Supreme Court Building.

Conservation[edit]

The building was declared a monument on September 14, 1989.[9] It will be available for adaptive reuse at the earliest in 2015, after the relocation of the Court of Final Appeal to the existing Legislative Council Building.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Antiquities and Monuments Office: Former French Mission Building
  2. ^ a b c Consulate General of France in Hong Kong & Macau: 16 stories about Hong Kong-France relations
  3. ^ a b c Wordie, Jason (2002). Streets: Exploring Hong Kong Island. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. pp. 22–23. ISBN 962-209-563-1. 
  4. ^ Antiquities and Monuments Office: Central and Western Heritage Trail: Central Route
  5. ^ a b discoverhongkong.com: Former French Mission Building
  6. ^ Bard, Solomon (2002). Voices from the past: Hong Kong, 1842-1918. Hong Kong University Press. p. 340. ISBN 978-962-209-574-8. 
  7. ^ "From British Colonization to Japanese Invasion". HKIA Journal (No. 45: 50 years of Hong Kong Institute of Architects): 47. 2006-05-30. 
  8. ^ Finance Committee - Public Works Subcommittee (Papers) 8 Nov 95: "Conversion of the French Mission Building into the Court of Final Appeal"
  9. ^ Environment Protection Department: List of Declared Monuments as on 1 January 1999 (archive)
  10. ^ Legislative Council Panel on Development: "Progress Report on Heritage Conservation Initiatives", 15 July 2011

External links[edit]

Preceded by
none
Home of the
Legislative Council of Hong Kong

1843 – 1846
Succeeded by
Caine Road (1846-?)

Coordinates: 22°16′45.75″N 114°9′34.71″E / 22.2793750°N 114.1596417°E / 22.2793750; 114.1596417