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Toko Merah

Toko Merah means “red-store”. The store was called Toko Merah because all frames were in red. Not only the frame was in red, the furniture inside was also in red. The red color is the characteristic of Chinese-ness similar to the Chinese temple. Because everything is red and its function as a store, then it was named Toko Merah. This house in the mid-19th century was owned by Oey Liaw Kong. He opened a shop in the next Kali Besar (Ciliwung River) which at that time was still crowded as the lifeblood of commerce. The New red brick was added in 1923 when Bank voor Indie owned the building. If we look at this building now, there are words Toko Merah, it is newly added.  Similarly, the frames, now they are not red but brown with golden color at the edge.

The building was built in 1730 by Gustaff Willem Baron van Imhoff before becoming governor general of VOC. Then it belonged to the daughter of the General Governor Mossel, Philippine Theodora. Due to the very old age, this building is haunted. Moreover, there is a story that this house was once the hideout of the Chinese to avoid a massacre in 1740. Regarding the latter story is dubious, but that's haunted stories about Toko Merah

This building is influenced by Dutch architecture in the early 18th century with large windows and glass in small boxes. The windows are a sliding up window like Old Dutch houses. The doors at front and center are also high.

If we get into Toko Merah, we will encounter empty buildings as antique furniture has been moved to various museums in Jakarta. Meanwhile the stairs from the second floor to the top was closed by the owner as the upstairs was a torture place. On the second floor of the rear of Toko Merah the doors are wide but low.

The back of Toko Merah is a wide open yard. Probably it used to be the place of maid because this house was a luxurious house inside the wall of Batavia. This yard is very private place. Unfortunately the buildings around are new and no relic.

In addition to the interior which is very spacious and has no furniture, on the north side of the first floor there are several counters for financial transactions. At the back of the second floor was the safe deposit box. This building was restored in 1923 when occupied by Bank Voor Indie.

This former house of the Van Imhoff was built in 1730, meaning a century after the western part of Batavia was constructed. The question is how the house form before 1730? Not known. Anyhow if we get into this house, we feel strange because it is actually two houses combined. Could it be before 1730 were two shop-houses like other houses in Batavia which later merged and renovated by Van Imhoff?

In addition to European influence there is also Chinese influence, may be the building contractor in old Batavia was Chinese. The influence was visible from the roof ridge that is parallel to the street different with houses in Amsterdam that are perpendicular. According to fengshui, Chinese geomancy, a roof ridge that is perpendicular to the street brings bad luck. So the Chinese always build a house with the roof ridge parallel to the street.

Toko Merah is an interesting object for architectural students to be written as a thesis or dissertation. Besides the space and form, the history of this building is the beginning of the architectural history study in Indonesia; it is a pity if not well studied.

Toko Merah
Toko Merah