People flocked to the 80-year-old Haw Par Music in Tai Hang to see the mansion blended with Chinese and western architecture on its last opening day yesterday.
The grade one historic building was built by tycoon Aw Boon Haw with HK$16 million in 1936. The site will cease operation today and be returned to the government.
Haw Par Music is a project under the Revitalizing Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme. It was revitalized by the non-profit-making organization, Haw Par Music Foundation Limited.
Having commenced operation in April 2019, Chinese and Western music training is offered, regular free guided tours are held and the garden and interpretation area of Haw Par Mansion is open to the public.
The tenancy agreement of the mansion was originally scheduled to expire on March 31, 2025. But due to challenges in operation that affect its income and business operation, the government announced on September 9 that operator Haw Par Music Foundation agreed to return the building tomorrow.
A visitor, Yau, who is in her 50s, brought her Barbie doll with her to visit the mansion. She worried the music training programs won't exist if it returns to the government and the public may lose the opportunity to visit the site in person.
Another, Yen, who has visited the mansion three times, is particularly fond of its artistic stained glass windows, which were custom-made in Florence, Italy.
He hopes that the government will use the mansion as a venue to hold community outreach activities to promote culture.
According to the Development Bureau, the mansion has been restored and preserved through the revitalization project.
"We will formulate plans for its future use in consultation with the Advisory Committee on Built Heritage Conservation, including the consideration of incorporating this historic building into the next Batch of the Revitalization Scheme for application by eligible organizations," said bureau spokesman.
During the transition period, the Development Bureau said they will carry out maintenance works, which is expected to take only a few months. It will reopen around the second quarter of 2023 for free public visits in the form of guided tours with details to be announced later.
Haw Par Mansion and its private garden have been preserved and passed to the government in 2001, and the Tiger Balm Garden was demolished in 2004 for redevelopment.
The premise was accorded grade one historic building status in 2009.
The elderly are advised to keep warm as temperatures are expected to plunge to 13 degrees Celsius with occasional showers tomorrow and Friday.
The Observatory said a cold front crossed the coast of Guangdong between last night and this morning and temperatures will drop significantly today, with a minimum temperature of about 15 degrees this evening, down to about 13 degrees in urban areas tomorrow and Friday, and a few degrees lower in the New Territories.
Maura Wong Hung-hung, executive officer of Senior Citizen Home Safety Association, reminded the elderly to get out warm clothes and check whether heaters are working properly.
She added that the drop in temperatures may affect their airways, especially those with long-term lung conditions, such as asthma.
In addition, Wong said the drop in temperature may strengthen influenza and Covid
viruses, and urged the elderly to receive at least three Covid vaccine
doses as well as the influenza vaccines
as soon as possible.
"Seniors should seek medical advice as soon as they feel uncomfortable caused by weather changes, especially if they develop any symptoms of fever or influenza, and should take medicine timely," she said.
The number of people seeking help for flu symptoms through the association's care-on-call service has increased by about 10 percent per month since September, with more than 1,500 seeking help in November.
"The public should also take the initiative to care for the elderly, especially those who live alone, by visiting them in person or by phone."
Wong also reminded seniors to pay attention to the latest weather information from the Observatory or through the care-on-call service.
Assisitant Observatory director Chan Pak-wai said the temperature will rebound to around 20 degree at the weekend. "Because of global warming, the average temperature this winter will be a little higher than previous years."