10 May THESE HOSPITALS WERE LOCATED IN THE HEART OF GEORGE TOWN
Muntri Street, lying within the buffer zone of George Town’s Heritage Site, may not seem like much at first glance, but it houses one of Penang’s biggest not-so-secrets. The street is renowned to have perhaps the best-preserved facades of Straits Eclectic style houses amongst George Town architecture. To senior locals, the street is fondly remembered as the origins of both the Lam Wah Ee and Adventist Hospitals – the former being established in 1883, and the latter in 1924. Lam Wah Ee hospital shifted to Gelugor after its original building was burnt down during WWII; a later structure still stands in its place. Likewise, the original Adventist Hospital building now houses the Lum Fong Hotel.
In the past, numerous trade guilds set up shop here, among them the Penang & Province Wellesley Cafe Association formed by Hainanese coffee shop owners, Penang Restaurants and Tea Shops Association, Penang Goldsmith Association, the Cantonese district association Wooi Ning Wooi Koon, and the King Wan Association, a trade union for shopkeepers and clerks. A number of them are still found here today, among the numerous boutique hotels and cafes retrofitted from some of the shop houses following the UNESCO classification.
Perhaps this quaint street in the middle of George Town houses the best mesh of old-meets-new in the city’s heritage and culture, as they survive and thrive among one another while adding another page in this city’s history.