The sprawling two-storey mansion, located within a stone’s throw of Orchard Road, was first purchased by Tan Hoon Siang (great-grandson of Tan Tock Seng) at an auction in May 1949. He is perhaps better known as the long-time chairman of Sembawang Estates Pte Ltd, as well as an avid botanist. A mist house at the Singapore Botanic Gardens is named after him.
The sizable property was aptly dubbed Villa Marie, after Tan Hoon Siang’s second wife – Madame Marie Theresa Windsor. Presumably, he had purchased it for her residence; he himself lived in a bungalow on Leonie Hill until 1981. Thereafter, he sold the bungalow and moved into Villa Marie, where he lived until his passing in 1991.
This prime estate is one of the last freehold properties in Orchard district that have not seen redevelopment. Though its vast grounds span 25,741 square feet, the low residential building is dwarfed by all the high-rise developments and large shopping complexes nearby.
Originally constructed in the late 1940s as a two-storey colonial-styled bungalow, the villa has balconies encompassing both of its wings. It is uniquely built with side entrances leading into the main building, instead of the traditional sheltered driveway. There is a long patio with floor to ceiling arches broken up by the entrance to the main building.
The roof features an intricate series of tiles that shelter the accommodation and its occupants within. It lacks any classical or traditional embellishments, using simple geometrical designs instead. Later renovations include an extension structure, two standalone structures, as well as other possible smaller extensions that are visible from the differences in their roofs.
This architectural design and style reflects the beginning stages of modern Singapore architecture. Such buildings usually feature modern reinforced concrete construction, metal or wood frame windows, high ceilings, fixed ventilators above and below the windows and embellishments in the form of ledges and projecting canopies.
Its selling price of $145 million remains one of the highest for a landed house in Singapore. Today, Shun Tak Real Estate has yet to announce its plans for the property.
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 May 2019 and is not intended to be an exhaustive history of the site/building.