The narrow winding staircase and the walls inside were adorned with smaller objects, including a few necklaces. On the northern side of the building is a small wooden door giving access to the roof. It has rickety old stairs that will take you up to an observation platform on top. Despite its unpretentious appearance, this structure is as historic as it is significant in the realm of culture.
The Former Japanese National School Building, which was constructed in the 1920s by the Japanese, originally served as the Japanese Government’s Office for Education. From 1946 until 1951, Gan Eng Seng School occupied the property, which solely served as a primary school at the time. From 1955 to 1984, Stamford Girls’ School occupied the site before merging with neighbouring Waterloo Girls’ School to form co-ed Stamford Primary School in 1984. By the mid-1980s, Stamford Primary School had relocated to its current site at 1 Victoria Lane. The structure was left severely damaged by then.
The former Works Department building was restored as Stamford Arts Centre under the National Arts Council’s Art Housing Scheme in 1988. (The Art Housing Scheme is a program that identifies and transforms old structures into low-cost, government-subsidised housing for use by the arts.)
The first tenants at Stamford Arts Centre were Chinese and Indian cultural groups. The Singapore Broadway Playhouse, Lee Howe Choral Society, Hsinghai Art Association, Tamil Representative Council, Nrityalaya Aesthetic Society, Narayana Gurukula, and Singapore Kiralee Kala Nilayam were among them.
Today, the Stamford Arts Centre remains a centre for many arts and cultural organizations. The late Kuo Pao Kun’s Theatre Practice is the office and rehearsal room. As one of Singapore’s first theatre practitioners, he had made significant contributions to the arts industry as a playwright, director, and art activist. He was also the co-founder of The Substation in 1990.
Stamford Arts Centre is located at 155 Waterloo Street.