Floral Tea Mansion: Home to the Penang Malay Gallery

The Floral Tea Mansion, or Rumah Teh Bunga, is a beautifully preserved and restored heritage building at 138 Jalan Hutton, Georgetown, Penang.

The mansion takes its name from the colour used to paint it. (Malaysia Traveller pic)

This 130-year-old mansion was restored by the National Heritage Department in 2009. A plaque was erected outside which reads:

“This mansion was built in 1893 on a plot of land measuring 1,608 sq m and had been a residence for several generations. In earlier times Hutton Road was well known as the residential district for the rich, with mansions owned by urban Malay and Indian Muslim merchants.

“This mansion was known as Rumah Teh Bunga, literally translated as Floral Tea Mansion, for its colour. Its original owner was Tuan Abdul What, a local Malay who resided there very briefly. The mansion was bought over by Tan Chong Keat in the early 1900s. Several generations of this family lived in the mansion and for a while three to four families lived together.

Star and moon symbol on the façade. (Malaysia Traveller pic)

“Of Sino-Malay design, the mansion combined the architecture of the pyramidal roofed Malay house with Chinese and European features, resembling the Syed Al-Attas Mansion in Armenian Avenue and Ku Din Ku Meh Mansion in Penang Road. The concrete plastered brick building has Indian tile roofing.

“The pediment in the mansion’s façade bears the star and crescent of Islam, signifying the religion of its original occupant, embellished with floral motifs.

“The mansion is divided into the primary quarters, a connecting kitchen block and a separate garage. The primary quarters consist of a porch, living room, toilet, storage room and an open drying area. The garage is located beside the primary quarters consisting of the driver’s room, an area for two horse carts with two stables. A car garage was built later beside the kitchen block.

“The mansion was bequeathed to Amanah Raya Bhd as real estate trustees by its last owner. The Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage had purchased the property with the owner’s agreement that the mansion would be converted to the Penang Malay Gallery, being the only heritage building of Penang Malay ownership remaining in its original state. Restoration works by the National Heritage Department commenced on Dec 23, 2008 and were completed on Aug 22, 2009.

“Whilst its ownership may have changed and several generations have lived in it, the entire fabric and character of the mansion remain preserved and uncompromised.”

For a time after restoration the building served as the Penang Malay Heritage Gallery but during a visit in 2018, the gallery signboard had been taken down and it appeared to be closed to the public.

Do take note that the Floral Tea Mansion is currently closed to the public due to Covid-19 restrictions but is expected to reopen soon. Please call before you visit.

Rumah Teh Bunga
140 Jalan Hutton
10050 George Town

Tel: (04) 226 1686

Malaysia Traveller

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