Standing proud on top of Mount Sophia near the city for more than a hundred years, the “Tower House”, whose official address is 12 Mount Sophia Road, is truly a beautiful colonial building that has fortunately survived through the tougher times of Singapore.
Built in 1892 by the Crane Brothers’ Architect, the double-storied house is made of concrete and wood with iron fittings. It was bought by the Methodist Church in 1932 and, along with the Old School across the road, became the extension of Methodist Girls’ School. It was during this period that the house was fondly known as the “Tower House”.
Mount Sophia had been a residential district for the middle and upper classes in the late 18th and early 19th century. Originally known as Seligi Hill (whose name was probably an older version of present-day Selegie), it was later named after Sir Stamford Raffles’ wife Lady Sophia Hull Raffles (1786-1858).
Lady Sophia married Sir Raffles in 1817 at an age of 30, two years after the death of Raffles’ first wife. Shortly after their marriage, Sir Raffles and Lady Sophia set sail to Bencoolen and then Singapore. She bore him five children and was the author of the famous biography Memoir of the Life and Public Services of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles that highlighted Sir Raffles’ accomplishment.
The Singapore government acquired the “Tower House” in 1998. After restoration, it was leased to a Oliver Bettin, who converted the house into a Montessori pre-education nursery known as House on the Hill.
Published: 01 December 2012
Updated: 23 January 2013
We called it the haunted house when I was at MGS
Yes, eerie place. We used to go for walks in the evenings around there & it was very quiet.
Ghost stories circulating amongst young impressionable girls. Sorry to let you down, haven’t got anything to back it up with. I personally don’t ever remember seeing it occupied in my ten years at the school. It makes a nice change tho’ seeing it as it is now
The pre-school at the Tower House has shifted to another location, and the house itself will be converted into a club for the new residential development named Haus on Handy
Isnt it ironic that the cost of preserving such a magnificent architecture leads to making it inaccessible to most people?
My memory of this building is similar to Annapoorani’s. It was a very well-kept building with no shrub out of place but I had never met any resident in all my ten years as a student in that vicinity.
The house was used by missionaries. I remember once dropping something off at the front door, but I have never been inside. The place was full of life.
I remember being told that the place was named after Stamford Raffles’s wife but there is another Sophia also connected with the school.
Her name is Sophia Blackmore and she is the person who founded the Methodist Girls’ School.
Here is the link.
I know this history as I used to go to MGS.
This Sophia tower is now part of the new development Calle do “Haus on Handy” It will be part of the condo project and they are going to preserve this tower and make it the club house. When completed in 2023, you can certainly visit the club house and have some photos. I love the history here at Mt. Sophia, Mt Emily…..rich heritage!