Stadthuys Town Hall (built 1641-1660)
Stadthuys is the oldest and largest building surviving in Southeast Asia from the early Dutch colonial era. Covering 49,200 square feet (including annexes), the building practically forms its own streetscape. Groundbreaking for the central portion of the building began in 1641, the same year that the Dutch wrested control of Melaka from the Portugese, who had ruled since 1511. Work on the building continued for nearly twenty years with laborers probably drawn mostly from the Portugese population. The building served as the civic center of the town, housing the Dutch governor and his numerous aides.
Stadthuys remained the center of Dutch Administration until 1824, when the British took control of the town. The subsequent British governors continued to favor Stadthuys as a civic center. As late as 1979, the Malaysian government used the building as the State Governing Center. Since then, the building has been converted into the Ethnography Museum. Although the interior is now filled with museum exhibits, it is still possible to view much of the interior with its thick masonry walls and heavy wooden beams.
For GPS users: According to GPS readings taken on site by the author, the building is located at 2 degrees 11.66621 minutes north, 102 degrees 14.95521 degrees east (WGS84 map datum).
Below: Axonometric sketch of Stadthuys. Drawing by the author, Timothy M. Ciccone.
All images 2005 Timothy M. Ciccone
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