Along Murray Street by Maxwell Road stands Murray Terrace, a cluster of 14 pre-war shophouses. Its namesake was believed to be Colonel A. Murray, a surveyor general of the Straits Settlements. Its original purpose is a bit of a mystery - it could have served as an army barracks. Murray Terrace has unusual architectural features – a lion head carving and claw-like protrusions on its walls, octagonal columns and a flag post.
The 1970s was a time of intensive urban renewal, and Murray Terrace, like many other shophouses in Singapore, was in a poor physical condition and at risk of demolition.
How did Murray Terrace survive? As buildings which could demonstrate their economic value were preserved, Murray Terrace was saved in 1977 due to a pilot project to create the Murray Terrace Food Alley. This became a popular food street that attracted both locals and tourists. The success of this and other pilot projects led to the conservation of more historic buildings.
However, by the 1990s however, the food street lost its appeal as many famous hawkers left. Murray Terrace was then refurbished as offices, and in 2018, as the Six Senses Maxwell hotel. Recently, due to COVID-19, the hotel closed down, but there are plans to reopen it next year under the Marriott Hotels chain.
Murray Terrace, through its various incarnations, has adapted to the changes and challenges that Singapore has faced. This shophouse row proves that heritage structures can be more than nostalgic reminders – with will and creativity, they can be transformed to become useful to the present while commemorating the past. #HEREitage