The History of Alkaff Mansion
The history of Alkaff Mansion began in 1918 when it was built by Syed Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Alkaff, a nephew of Syed Shaikh Alkaff – the first Alkaff to arrive in Singapore.
The Alkaffs was a family of great traders whose ancestors arrived in Singapore from Yemen in 1852. The Alkaffs had a lucrative business between India and Indonesia, in spices, coffee and sugar.
Located in the serene Telok Blangah Hill Park, Alkaff Mansion was built primarily as a retreat for the family and to entertain their guests. It became known for hosting high society parties in the 1930s.
Sited atop the hill, the two-storey Tudor-styled bungalow looked out on a 19-hectare park and during that time, commanded a sweeping view of Keppel Harbour. The hill was then believed to be the highest point in Singapore on which a bungalow sat.
In 1926, renovation works were carried out to increase the mansion’s built-in area to its current configuration. In the 1930s, Alkaff Mansion became widely known as a gathering place for notable members of society.
After World War II, the Alkaffs suffered business losses and sold off a number of their properties, including Alkaff Mansion. In 1984, the land was acquired by the government for the development of a 33-hectare park. Left unoccupied, the mansion fell into a state of disrepair until it was converted into a restaurant in 1990.
The renovated Alkaff Mansion became a popular venue for private events, especially for wedding banquets, corporate dinners and birthday parties. At the height of its popularity, it hosted more than a hundred weddings annually, with couples exchanging vows outdoors under a marquee in its terraced gardens. Demand was said to be high as the mansion offered an affordable and elegant alternative to hotel function rooms.
In 2003, the restaurant ceased operations and the mansion was handed over to the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) after its lease expired in 2004 and eventually left vacant for many years.
Today, the conservation building is owned by the Singapore Land Authority, and LHN Group, the owners of the highly successful Spruce, was awarded the tender to restore the building for food and beverage purposes.
Source:History of the Arabs in Singapore; History on Alkaff Mansion