7 historical buildings in Sabah that you need to visit
Sabah is known for its reputation of being one of the worlds’ beautiful places, due to its naturally dense rainforest, tropical islands, and colorful cultural. While visiting Sabah, the eco-natural activities are not the only main reason for travelers to discover the beauty of Sabah. The historical buildings in Sabah are also one of the main factors that make it an amazing holiday destination trip.
No matter if you are a tourist or local who wants to get a dose of history from the past, it’s always good to know a thing or two about the history of the city that you are currently in. Check out the list below for my suggestion of historical buildings in Sabah that you should visit.
1. Sabah Tourism Board
One of the oldest building in Kota Kinabalu city. It is formerly known as Jesselton Post Office during the World War II (WWII), and it is fortunate enough to not be destroyed by the 1945 allied bombing in the Jesselton area back then. The Sabah Tourism Board building will be exactly 100 years old next year since its opening was officiated by governor Mr. Pearson on March 16, 1918.
2. Atkinson Clock Tower
The original look of Atkinson Clock Tower ( Photo by: Heritage Sabah)
Atkinson Clock Tower now.
It is located on the bluff along the Signal Hill Road which is overlooking the capital city of Sabah. It used to be known as Atkinson Memorial Clock Tower, as it was built in the memory of Jesselton’s first district officer who died of Malaria at the age 28, Francis George Atkinson. The construction of Atkinson Clock Tower is unique because it is an all-wood and no-nails structure built by people of the past. The clock tower was used as a shipping navigation landmark in the 1900s, but now it serves as helping locals to be conscious of the local time in Sabah in order to assist them in their daily chores.
3. Deparment of Social Welfare
Old Social Welfare building(Image source : TH YEE)
Department of Social Welfare became an unofficial street art gallery.
It was constructed between 1918 – late 1920s, and it is one of the British Colonial building that survived in the 1945 allied bombing. It used to be Lands and Survey Department Building but was later changed to Department of Social Welfare. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by fire on December 31, 1992, and there is no development since then. In 2010, it became an un-official Street Art Graffiti Gallery, where the local artist used it as a canvas to express their art creativity, as well as preserving the historical site.
4. Jesselton Hotel
Picture of Jesselton Hotel on 28th November 1961.
(Photo source: Jabatan Penerangan Sabah)
Jesselton Hotel is the oldest and first modern hotel built after the World War II (WWII). Following the devastation of Jesselton town ( known as Kota Kinabalu now) at the end of WWII, Sir Herbert Ralph Hone, as the Colonial Governor of Jesselton, encouraged the British Hong Kong Chinese businessmen to invest and rebuild the Jesselton town area. Thus, the hotel was built in 1954 at Gaya Street and it attracts locals and tourists’ attention because of the structure building that gives a little touch of colonial and its doorman wearing a colonial uniform.
5. St. Michael’s and All Angels Church, Sandakan
Old photo of St. Michael’s and All Angels Church, Sandakan
The oldest stone church building in Sabah, and also a part of Sandakan Heritage Trails which connects few historical sights and monuments in Sandakan. The building was first constructed using ironwood timber, then followed by bricks, and finally stone. The church took more than 30 years to complete, started in 1893 and completed in 1906. The church manage to avoided major damage during WWII in the 1940s, and served as a resting place for Prisoners of War(POWs) who trekked the Sandakan Death March.
6. Agnes Keith House, Sandakan
Agnes Keith House, Sandakan
Agnes Keith is an American author, who wrote her life experience in North Borneo (now – Sabah). Her house was once a British Colonial Government Quarters, called Newlands, and now it is one of the famous landmarks in Sandakan. Agnes Keith and her family lived in the house until 1942 and came back to Borneo again after the WWII. However, they realised the house was burnt down due to the war and they rebuilt the house from scratch with the same design as the old one. Agnes Keith and her family continued to live there until they left Sabah in 1952. Today, the house was restored back after 50 years by Sabah Museum and opened for public in 2004. The house now turned into a museum portraying the life Agnes Keith and her family through documents, pictures, and portraits. Moreover, the house was furnished with colonial furniture and genuine antiques, which makes you feel like a step back in time to British colonial era.
7. Bellfry or Bell Tower, Tawau
The Belfry was constructed in 1921 by the prison labour, and it is the only historical building in Tawau to survive the WWII. It was built to commemorate the signing of Armistice following the World War I in 1918, when Japan was an ally of Great Britain. The bell tower was used to indicate the time back then, and the hours rung at intervals by the police guard. However, there is no bell in the bell tower now and it became a mystery in Tawau history.
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