Gov’t unknowingly gave US university campus go-ahead for demolition of WWII military fort remains

Jubilee Battery on Mount Davis, Pok Fu Lam, was a key defence site for British soldiers during World War II. Photos via The University of Chicago (left) and Google Street View/Charman To (right)
Jubilee Battery on Mount Davis, Pok Fu Lam, was a key defence site for British soldiers during World War II. Photos via The University of Chicago (left) and Google Street View/Charman To (right)

The government unknowingly gave the go-ahead for the demolition of World War II remnants in 2016 to make way for the construction of a US university’s satellite campus, local media said Monday.

Hong Kong’s Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO) reportedly only learned two years ago that a wall that was torn down during the building of the University of Chicago’s Hong Kong campus on Mount Davis in Pok Fu Lam was part of a military fort called Jubilee Battery.

Built in the late 1930s, the fort had military barracks and gun emplacements for artillery that were part of Britain’s key coastal defence arsenal. After World War II, the site was converted into the Victoria Road Detention Center, known also as the “White House.”

The Development Bureau, which oversees the Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO), said in an emailed statement to Coconuts that the university told the office that the wall was a later addition to the site—but two years later found “new information” that the wall was actually part of the “original defence system.”

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The bureau declined to answer questions about whether the AMO conducted its own evaluation and verification of the university’s supposed claim. (According to the AMO’s website, the office’s work includes identifying and researching places of historical interest, among other duties related to heritage conservation.)

The University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus opened its doors in 2018.
The University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus opened in 2018.

Coconuts has reached out to the University of Chicago, but is still waiting for a response at the time of writing.

Opened in 2018, the university’s 53,000-square foot Yuen Campus offers a 21-month executive MBA program as well as other non-degree business courses.

The school operates a heritage center that, before the COVID-19 epidemic, held guided tours and exhibitions to promote the heritage significance of the campus. The center acknowledges that the campus was “originally part of Jubilee Battery at Mount Davis, which formed part of Hong Kong’s western coastal defence system.”

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