Chee Mansion, Melaka

Chee Ancestral Hall

I was a bit obsessed with this place when I was little, thinking of it as The Palace On Heeren Street. It’s actually the ancestral home of the Chee family, an old Peranakan (Straits-born Chinese) clan. It was built around the turn of the last century by Chee Swee Cheng, the first chairman of the Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), in memory of his grandfather, Chee Yam Chuan who was a prominent member of the Hokkien community.

Designed by architect J Westerhout, it blends Dutch, Portuguese, British, and Chinese influences in architecture. It’s the grandest building on the street now – formerly called Heeren street, now Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock – as it must have been back in its day.

The Chee mansion remains a private residence (the family still gathers there on special occasions, as is customary for Peranakan clans), so looking at it in YouTube videos is the closest I’m going to come to having a peek inside.

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