Keep 37 Emerald Hill
The Keep 37 Emerald Hill campaign is an initiative by former students of the school to seek official conservation status for the old SCGS campus at Emerald Hill. Home to the school for close to 70 years, the Emerald Hill campus still stands today and is currently occupied by the Chatsworth International School. However, with no official conservation status, the buildings are at risk of being lost when the land is considered needed for development.
The Emerald Hill campus is a critical part of our school’s history and identity. SCGS moved to 37 Emerald Hill in 1926, after several years of uncertainty in different buildings on Hill Street. For the first time, the school now had its own purpose-built structure – a 2-storey building with 12 classrooms, a staff room, teachers’ office and an assembly hall. As the school ‘s enrolment grew, more buildings were added to the site, each with their own distinctive architecture. These included the Song Ong Siang Block fronting Emerald Hill Road in 1955, and the Lee Kong Chian Block in the early 1970s. 37 Emerald Hill bore witness to many key events that were significant both for Singapore and the school, including the Japanese occupation from 1942 – 1945 (which saw the school used as a quarters for “comfort women”), a brief period of admitting male students, the opening of enrollment to girls of all races, as well as the achievement of independent school status.
In many ways, the school found its footing at Emerald Hill. It was home to generations of SCGS girls and is an embodiment of experiences and memories of their collective school-going years. Who can forget the tall trees in front of the Primary School, the mysterious Principal’s House, walking to Orchard Road after school or buying a first bowl of meepok? Buildings around us often tell stories of who we are and where we came from, and this is no different with 37 Emerald Hill.
The Keep 37 Emerald Hill Road campaign – a community-based , volunteer-run effort – was motivated by the need to retain a part of the school’s history, and also to consider ways in which the site can be adaptively re-used in future. The campaign aims to submit a proposal for conservation to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in early 2019, highlighting the significance of the site from historical, social and architectural angles, and proposing options for conservation and re-use of the buildings. The campaign will build support from a broad community of stakeholders to retain the buildings and re-imagine a future for the site, including current and former SCGS students and staff, residents of the surrounding Emerald Hill neighbourhood, heritage enthusiasts and business-owners on nearby Orchard Road. Beyond achieving conservation status, the team also hopes that the campaign will raise awareness of heritage conservation in the built environment, and inspire others to take on an active role in stewarding our heritage for future generations.
After several months of public consultations and workshops, the Keep 37 Emerald Hill team is now working on their proposal for submission to the Urban Redevelopment Authority, building on the memories and ideas generously shared with us by members of the public. Keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram pages (@Keep37EmeraldHill) for more updates.