Lhong 1919, heritage at heart
3 January 2017
The banks of the Chao Phraya River have been booming the last few years. Beside arty places like Jam Factory, TCDC or Warehouse 30, Lhong 1919 has just opened.
At the time of Bangkok’s early international trade, the Japanese docked at Suriwongse, Europeans at East Asiatic Port, royalty anchored at Tha Maharaj while most of the Chinese would land for the first time in Thailand in the heart of Thonburi, also known as the “Old Port District”, at the Huo Chuan Laung Pier. Known today as Lhong or as the “Wanglee Family’s Warehouse”, the pier was built in 1850 by the Bisalputra family to accommodate steamships from Middle Empire. The pier was acting at the time as a merchant center with all traders heading to do business in Siam and storing their imported stocks from many overseas locations such as China, Singapore or Hong Kong.
“This pier used to be like the Suvarnabhumi Airport of 150 years ago. A hub that connects Thais, Chinese and the history between the two countries,” says Peeraya Boonprasong, an architect, in a promotional video.
Huo Chuán Láung was constructed in the Chinese architecture style popular during the reign of King Rama III, with brick and cement, wooden floor boards, ceramic roofs. It comprises 3 buildings connecting into a U-shaped home and the Mazu Shrine (Khlong San). Lhong is now the last building of this style on the banks of the river.
In 1919, the building area of 6,800 square meters turned over from the Bisalputra family to the Wanglee family, who transformed the pier into offices and warehouses for the agricultural production of the family and labor housing. Since then the place has continually served its purpose as a warehouse until 2016, when Rujiraporn Wanglee, Project Director and President of PIA Interior Company Limited, an interior design company, noticed the building was falling apart. Concerned not to let a site with such an aesthetic and historical legacy continue to crumble or be replaced by yet another condominium, Rujiraporn launched the idea with her family to restore Lhong and open it to the public.
The reservation-restoration then started with an utmost care to preserve as much of the original and natural beauty of historical sites as possible, using similar methods and materials as the originals. After cleaning the different layers of paint, the mural arts along the door and window frames have been delicately painted line by line on the faded parts, with the most similar colors. This precision work was completed in a year, for an incredible result. Open to the public since November 3, Lhong is now a creative and artistic center allowing visitors to discover the historical heritage and the Mazu Shrine, while offering activities of interiors and exteriors as well as artistic performances, art and craft design shops by young Thai artists, and convivial areas:
co-working spaces, restaurants and cafes.
Upon entering, the visitor feels teleported to another era and time seems to stop, far from the effervescence of the capital. During the grand opening on November 2, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, the Minister of Sports and Tourism highlighted with emotion the importance of this patrimony: “This is a place of dreams, a place for culture and for the future. We have to be thankful and proud of our heritage, this is the real Thainess.”
Chiang Mai Road, Khlongsan, Bangkok
+66 (0)9 1187 1919
Open daily from 8am-8pm, eateries 10am-10pm