GEORGE TOWN: The first phase of the conservation work for the Penang Goldsmith Association, known as Penang Ta Kam Hong, has started and is expected to finish within a year.
Best known for Ernest Zacharevic’s “Little Girl in Blue” mural on its wall, the building was constructed in 1904 and houses the Wu Chin Temple.
The work now includes an analysis on the structure of the 114-year-old building in Muntri Street.
The building, which is one of 82 Category 1 heritage buildings in George Town, has structural defects in several places.
On Thursday, the association signed an agreement with the George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI) to launch a conservation project for the heritage building.
GTWHI general manager Dr Ang Ming Chee said her organisation would supervise the conservation efforts, starting with an investigation on the building structure, a dilapidation report, an inventory of artefacts and a master plan for the whole project.
“It will cost around RM160,000 for the initial investigation works and the master plan,” she said, adding that the state was funding the initial investigation.
Dr Ang said the entire restoration project would cost at least RM3mil, including adding a gallery and interpretive centre.
State Tourism Development, Heritage, Culture and Arts Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin said the structure was one of the earliest occupational guild halls in George Town.
“It carries the history of the goldsmith business with a collection of artefacts that are still being preserved as the evidence of the cultural heritage,” he said at the signing ceremony.
Earlier, association chairman Ang Choon Keng showed Yeoh and Dr Ang the damaged parts of the building included a sunken floor at the entrance as well as cracks on the walls and pillars.
“We need to start restoring this building since it is over a century old so that its condition doesn’t worsen.
“After the restoration, we plan to start a small gallery here as well,” he said, adding that the association has about 200 members.
Also present were Komtar assemblyman Teh Lai Heng and Pengkalan Kota assemblyman Daniel Gooi.