The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore

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Discover the legacy of the Stamford House, the Capitol Theatre, and the Namazie Mansions at The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore.

The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore was constructed in the years leading up to World War I, which was an era defined by its economic prosperity, artistic expression, and political intrigue.

The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore is actually comprised of two historic landmarks known as the Stamford House and the Capitol Building. The more senior of the two—the Stamford House—originally debuted in 1904. British architect R.A.J. Bidwell of Swan & Maclaren designed the building on behalf of the Whiteaway Laidlaw & Company. Owned by Seth Paul, the Whiteaway Laidlaw & Company would operate at the location for the next six years. What followed afterward was a prolonged period of fluid occupancy, during which Paul rented out portions of the structure to multiple businesses. The famous Sarkies brothers were among the tenants, who used the top two floors as a hotel annex in the early 1910s. But then Seth Paul’s daughter, Klara Van Hein, decided to transform the entire structure into a boutique hotel called the “Oranje Hotel” during the mid-1930s. It remained active through World War II, even after the Japanese started occupying Singapore in 1942.

Meanwhile, Mizra Mohammad Ali Namazie began developing an extravagant movie theatre and an upscale apartment complex immediately next to the Oranje Hotel. Known as the Capitol Theatre and the Namazie Mansions, respectively, these two facilities opened in 1930. Namazie had hired the highly-regarded firm Keys and Dowdeswell to design the structures. The Capitol Theatre was completely packed when it played its first movie, a musical comedy called Rio Rita. Guests were awestruck by the theater’s manual temperature controls, upholstered seating, and custom-made acoustic installations. Soon enough, countless Hollywood stars began appearing at the theater to promote their films, such as Charlie Chaplin, Ava Gardner, and Mary Pickford. And at the adjacent Namazie Mansions, locals continuously vied to lease one of its exclusive flats. These marvelous accommodations charmed the city’s working professionals with its affordable rates and grand location in the heart of Singapore.

By the mid-20th century, the luster of all three facilities had begun to fade. Van Hein had closed the Oranje Hotel following the war, turning the building back into a retail space. The Shaw Organization had come to acquire both The Capitol Theatre and the Namazie Mansions, renaming the latter as the “Shaws Building” in 1946. While all three continued to operate, their glamourous appeal disappeared with the arrival of more modern venues nearby. Basco Enterprises attempted to reverse some of this decline when it renovated the former Oranje Hotel into a shopping center called the “Stamford House” during the 1960s. Nevertheless, the owners of all three buildings intended to demolish them nearly a decade later. But the Singaporean government fortunately intervened over the course of the 1980s and 1990s, protecting each location as a heritage site through its agency, the Urban Redevelopment Authority. The URA subsequently invested millions of dollars into preserving the buildings. The Shaws Building and the Capitol Theatre in particular received a substantial overhaul, with the Shaws Building getting rebranded as the “Capitol Building” in 1992.

True salvation arrived some twenty years later though, when a consortium consisting of Pua Seek Guan’s Perennial Real Estate and Chesham Properties bought each structure in 2010. The group successfully refurbished the three buildings as part of a much larger project to develop a mix-use commercial complex at the site. The Capitol Theatre returned to its former glory as an independent cinema, reopening as an entirely separate venue in 2015. But the Capitol Building and the Stamford House were combined to form a new grand hotel. Originally intended to open as “The Patina, Capitol Singapore,” Kempinski Hotels eventually agreed to operate the business as The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore in 2018. Now the foundation for a luxurious holiday destination in downtown Singapore, the legacy of both the Capitol Building and the Stamford House carries on at The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore.

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