Til death do us part? ‘Haunted’ building in Wan Chai expected to be turned into wedding office

Nam Koo Terrace. Screengrab via YouTube.
Nam Koo Terrace. Screengrab via YouTube.

A famous “haunted” house in Wan Chai could be converted into a wedding venue if a local developer has its way, according to a recent media report.

Legend has it that Nam Koo Terrace at 55 Ship Street was used by the Japanese military during WWII to house so-called “comfort women.” Since then, it has cemented itself as a place of paranormal interest thanks to accounts of people who claim to be able to hear the women’s cries coming from the building.

In 2018, the building’s owners, Hopewell Holdings, submitted an application to the Town Planning Board (TPB) to convert the building into a marriage registry — a proposal the board is expected to discuss this Friday… the 13th!

According to on.cc, during a TPB consultation, 2,236 of just over 2,500 comments (about 89 per cent) were in favor of the application, saying that it would provide more land for housing supply, increase public space, and also preserve Nam Koo Terrace, which is a Grade I historic building.

While it’s not entirely clear what measures will be taken by Hopewell to preserve Nam Koo Terrace, they have said that they will ensure that they do their best to preserve the building and the landscapes in accordance with the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance.

Nam Koo Terrace was built in 1918 by wealthy Shanghainese silk trader To Chun-man. According to an Apple Daily video series on Hong Kong ghost stories, the house was commonly known as “the red house” because it was built with red brick, and tenants at the time enjoyed views of Victoria Harbour and Lion Rock.

To leased the house to his younger brother To Jaak-man, who suddenly passed away inside the house in 1943, in the midst of the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong from 1941 to 1945. During the occupation, and with the house empty, Nam Koo Terrace and several buildings in the Wan Chai area were appropriated by the Japanese soldiers house comfort women.

When the Japanese left Hong Kong, the To family resumed ownership of the home but it remained empty. In 1988, the family sold the property to Hopewell Holdings, with the property company initially planning to build a hotel over it, and the building remaining vacant. During this time the paranormal rumor mill began to churn, circulating stories of people hearing from beyond the grave the screams of the comfort women who were raped there, with some have going so far as to report seeing “ghostly flames” in the house.

The rumors certainly did stop after an incident in 2003, in which a group of eight high school students attempted to stay overnight in the building, but had to be rescued by police officers after three of the female students became emotionally unstable inside the house, saying they were attacked by a ghost.


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