House on The Hill Pre-School (Former Nan Hwa Girls’ High School)

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While younger Singaporeans know this building as a pre-school, older Singaporeans will remember this building as Nan Hwa Girls’ High School—a school that provided many girls in Singapore with the opportunity of an education.
Block 33 Mount Sophia Singapore 228481
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Located at the junction of Sophia Road and Adis Road, this building used to house Nan Hwa Girls’ High School (Main) from 1941-1983.

Early Beginnings

In the early 1900s when Yangzheng School’s girl’s department had to close due to financial problems, Mr Xiong Shangfu initiated fund-raising projects and worked with some Chinese businessmen to establish a school for girls. They wanted to provide girls with a proper education—an opportunity that was denied to girls then.

Nan Hwa Girls’ School opened on 14 June 1917 with 50 students at their first campus on Coleman Street. It was a traditional Chinese school and lessons were conducted in Mandarin.

In 1921, Nan Hwa Girls’ School moved to a bigger building at Bencoolen Street, and in 1939, a branch school was set up in Middle Road due to the increasing student population. It was also decided that a secondary school should be built.

In 1941, they moved into the Adis Road campus. It was named Nan Hwa Girls’ High School (Main) while the campus at Bencoolen Street was known as Nan Hwa Girls’ High School (Branch). The school in Middle Road ceased operations. Shortly after, at the end of the year, war broke out and both schools were closed. After the war, the two campuses were reopened, and the main school started secondary classes.

Architectural Style

Practical and economical, this building’s style is typical of larger buildings of the 1930s to 1960s. The main three-storey building has an unusually thin, continuous cantilevered concrete ledge around the perimeter to provide shade from the hot sun and heavy rain. Precast reinforced concrete vents on the external walls also aid ventilation.

At the time of writing, Inscriptions of “Nan Hwa Girls’ High School” and “南华女子中学校” remain on the building’s front façade. The Shanghai Plaster on the external walls, however, has been covered with modern paint.

Conservation status

The building was given conservation status by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on 29 August 2011. Later in 2016, the building was used as a showroom for Sophia Hills, a residential development project. As part of the development, the building was converted into a kindergarten and childcare centre. At the time of writing, the building is used as House on The Hill Montessori Pre-School.

This is a conserved building(s) by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), please visit URA’s Conservation Portal for more details.

Buildings and sites featured on Roots.SG are part of our efforts to raise awareness of our heritage; a listing on Roots.SG does not imply any form of preservation or conservation status, unless it is mentioned in the article. The information in this article is valid as of December 2019 and is not intended to be an exhaustive history of the site/building.