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Old halls of residence at HKU declared monuments

Last year, the Government announced that the exteriors of three historic buildings – Fung Ping Shan Building, Eliot Hall and May Hall – at The University of Hong Kong (HKU) as monuments. May Hall is my hall of residence when I studied in the university. This time, I have invited a colleague of Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO) to return to this familiar place for a visit and introduce the architectural features and histories of these three historic buildings.

After walking up the stairs adjacent to the Meng Wah Complex at the university, we saw two historic and elegant buildings – Eliot Hall and May Hall. They stand one after the other and look very alike. But, you can tell the difference when seeing the number of the year carved above the doors. The Eliot Hall was opened in 1914 and named after HKU’s first Vice-Chancellor Charles Eliot while May Hall was opened in 1915 and named after the second Chancellor of the university and the 15th Governor of Hong Kong, Sir Francis Henry May.

The Eliot Hall and May Hall were respectively the second and third student resident halls under the direct management of the HKU while Lugard Hall, the first one, was opened in 1913. In June 1966, an inexhaustible torrential rain caused a large-scale landslide at the slope adjacent to the Eliot Hall and May Hall, which led to extensive repairs of the two halls. The HKU took this opportunity to combine the Lugard Hall, Eliot Hall and May Hall into one large residential unit named Old Halls which was opened in 1969. The Lugard Hall was subsequently demolished in 1992.

Architecture adopted in the Edwardian period

The Executive Secretary of the AMO, Ms SIU Lai-kuen, Susanna, said the two old residential halls are three-storey structures. Red brick is the main material and the bricks were laid in “Flemish Bond”. The elegant façades feature a rich variety of architectural elements, including curved pediments (hoods) over the entrance doorways, rusticated columns, a Neo-classical façade of Doric capitals, colonial window chills, cornices and balustrades. This richness of architecture was widely adopted in the Edwardian period in England.

Both of the buildings were built in Western style and blended with Chinese architectural details, for example: Chinese-style ceramic grilles are found on the façade to contrast with the red brick wall. The pitched and double-tiled roofs are a local adaption.

Over the years, the internal layouts of the Eliot Hall and May Hall have undergone successive renovations. The former residential halls have been turned into a lecture hall and offices, but some of the fireplaces and original decorative details to the walls and ceilings, such as the mouldings and cornices, as well as the coloured floor tiles of the open verandas are basically intact.

Memorable residence life

During the visit, memories of my three-year residence life in the May Hall have been brought back to me, particularly the Chinese couplet attached on the Old Halls still being on my mind, which describes the beautiful overlooking views of the hall and students’ visions and passion. At that time, many hall mates of the Old Halls coming from relatively remote areas in the New Territories were very friendly. We developed a close rapport with each other inside and outside classroom, so the atmosphere of the halls was very harmonious.

The garden behind the May Hall, now grown with flowers, was a non-standard basketball court where hall mates once played basketball or red and white plastic balls (watermelon balls). We took the matches seriously and the balconies of the hall were like a spectator stand where other hall mates would cheer on with great applaud, creating a festive air.

Fung Ping Shan Building reopened at the end of March

Fung Ping Shan Building, the exterior of which has also been declared as a monument, is temporarily closed due to renovation, so we did not visit the building. The Fung Ping Shan Building, originally named Fung Ping Shan Library, was opened in 1932, as a library for Chinese books of the university thanks to the generous donation by the late Mr FUNG Ping-shan. During the Second World War, over 240 000 valuable books from private individuals, schools and government organisations were stored in the building. In 1962, the collection of Fung Ping Shan Library was transferred to the newly constructed Main Library of the university. The original library building was then converted into Fung Ping Shan Museum and was renamed University Museum and Art Gallery in 1994.

Fung Ping Shan Building is a three-storey building. The symmetrically constructed building has a fan-shaped floor plan with a rounded central section. It has a prominent glass dome on the roof and the overall design reflects distinctive architectural features. The renovation of the building is expected to be completed in March. By then, we will further introduce its architectural features.

There are seven monuments with a rich variety of architectural features on the university campus, including the exteriors of the May Hall, Eliot Hall, Fung Ping Shan Building, Main Building, University Hall, Hung Hing Ying Building and Tang Chi Ngong Building. The AMO and HKU are studying and designing a visiting route introducing the historical compound on the campus. Heritage gives us amazing insights into the territory’s unique past, which is characterised by a sophisticated fusion of Eastern and Western cultures. We will continue to strive to preserve and conserve our heritage and promote heritage education to pass on to the future generations.

 
Please click on the image above to watch the video.
The exteriors of May Hall, Eliot Hall and Fung Ping Shan Building at The University of Hong Kong (HKU) were declared as monuments in November last year. Accompanied by the Executive Secretary of the Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO), Ms SIU Lai-kuen, Susanna (right), the Secretary for Development (SDEV), Mr WONG Wai-lun, Michael (left), paid a visit to the May Hall that he once stayed..
The exteriors of May Hall, Eliot Hall and Fung Ping Shan Building at The University of Hong Kong (HKU) were declared as monuments in November last year. Accompanied by the Executive Secretary of the Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO), Ms SIU Lai-kuen, Susanna (right), the Secretary for Development (SDEV), Mr WONG Wai-lun, Michael (left), paid a visit to the May Hall that he once stayed.
The SDEV, Mr Michael WONG (right), was briefed by the Executive Secretary of the AMO, Ms Susanna SIU (left), on the architectural features and histories of the May Hall, Eliot Hall and Fung Ping Shan Building..
The SDEV, Mr Michael WONG (right), was briefed by the Executive Secretary of the AMO, Ms Susanna SIU (left), on the architectural features and histories of the May Hall, Eliot Hall and Fung Ping Shan Building.
The May Hall was opened in 1915..
The May Hall was opened in 1915.
The Eliot Hall was opened in 1914..
The Eliot Hall was opened in 1914.
The Fung Ping Shan Building was built in 1931 and opened in 1932..
The Fung Ping Shan Building was built in 1931 and opened in 1932.
A landslide was occurred at the slope adjacent to (from back row) the May Hall, Eliot Hall and Lugard Hall (demolished in 1992) at the HKU in 1996, leading to upgrading works of the halls. The HKU took this opportunity to combine the three halls into one large residential unit named Old Halls which was opened in 1969. (Source: photo provided by University Archives, HKU).
A landslide was occurred at the slope adjacent to (from back row) the May Hall, Eliot Hall and Lugard Hall (demolished in 1992) at the HKU in 1996, leading to upgrading works of the halls. The HKU took this opportunity to combine the three halls into one large residential unit named Old Halls which was opened in 1969. (Source: photo provided by University Archives, HKU)
Red brick is the main material of the Eliot Hall and May Hall with a rich variety of architectural elements, such as the curved pediments (hoods) over the entrance doorways and Doric capitals of the May Hall shown in the picture, which were widely adopted in the Edwardian period in England..
Red brick is the main material of the Eliot Hall and May Hall with a rich variety of architectural elements, such as the curved pediments (hoods) over the entrance doorways and Doric capitals of the May Hall shown in the picture, which were widely adopted in the Edwardian period in England.
The May Hall and Eliot Hall are three-storey structures. Pictured is rear elevation of the May Hall..
The May Hall and Eliot Hall are three-storey structures. Pictured is rear elevation of the May Hall.
Both buildings were built in Western style and blended with Chinese features, such as the pitched and double-tiled Chinese roofs and the very typical cornices..
Both buildings were built in Western style and blended with Chinese features, such as the pitched and double-tiled Chinese roofs and the very typical cornices.
The May Hall and Eliot Hall were built with the red brick wall and Chinese-style ceramic grilles, which was a very rare decoration..
The May Hall and Eliot Hall were built with the red brick wall and Chinese-style ceramic grilles, which was a very rare decoration.
Over the years, the internal layouts of the Eliot Hall and May Hall have undergone successive renovations, but some of the fireplaces and the coloured floor tiles are preserved..
Over the years, the internal layouts of the Eliot Hall and May Hall have undergone successive renovations, but some of the fireplaces and the coloured floor tiles are preserved..
Over the years, the internal layouts of the Eliot Hall and May Hall have undergone successive renovations, but some of the fireplaces and the coloured floor tiles are preserved.
The SDEV, Mr Michael WONG, remembered that many hall mates played red and white plastic balls at the back of the May Hall while others would cheer on with great applaud on the balconies..
The SDEV, Mr Michael WONG, remembered that many hall mates played red and white plastic balls at the back of the May Hall while others would cheer on with great applaud on the balconies.
The carved granite doorway of the Fung Ping Shan Building is decorated with elegant Classical surround. The Fung Ping Shan Building is under repairs and expected to be reopened at the end of March..
The carved granite doorway of the Fung Ping Shan Building is decorated with elegant Classical surround. The Fung Ping Shan Building is under repairs and expected to be reopened at the end of March.

20 January, 2019

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