Monday, December 28, 2015

Geo Wehry & Co. Building in Semarang and A Neglected Tombstone in Bandung

Geo Wehry & Co. building (with the minaret and utility pole) as seen from
Societeitsbrug or known as Jembatan Berok in 1925
(source: Leiden University Library)  
Learning history sometimes looks like solving the puzzle.  It has the whole record of the past and the big picture of history is made only from small, seemingly insignificant pieces. but then when we combined it all together, we can see that it’s something important, even its shaped our understanding of the present or something. Couple days ago with my old friends from Senior High School, I went to the pool (billiard hall) in Kota Lama. Its belongs to the one’s of the new hangout place in the middle of the development of Kota Lama in the recent years, and this kind of place always attract me to pay a visit. I want to know how its look like after the renovation and also its convertion of function.

This place, that named as Kota Lama Billyard, using the former office of one’s of the greatest multinational company in Dutch Indies (present days Indonesia) during the Colonial Period, Geo Wehry & Co. Its belongs to the Top Big Five company at time together with Lindeteves Stokvis, Netherlands Handel Maatschappij (NHM), Borsumij, Jacobson Van Den Berg and Internationale Crediet-en Handels-Vereeniging Rotterdam (Internatio). Geo Wehry & Co. originated in 1862 at Batavia (nowadays Jakarta). By the end of the century, it had branches at Surabaya, Cirebon and Semarang. The company was particularly active in agricultural estates and the export of agricultural product like tobacco, coffee and tea, with the famous product of it, its Goalparra Tea. During the twenties it began to participate in brewery industries, with the Tjap Koentji as the famous brands of it. According to Indische Literaire Wandelingen sites, the building is designed by D.W Hinse.

Inside the building, now turns into pool (Billyard Hall)
D. W. Hinse J.Hzn. is a Dutch architect that coming to Semarang firstly in 1902 to preparing  the construction of Nederlandsch Indische Spoorwed Maatschappij Hoofdkantoor, or well known as Lawang Sewu. Lawang Sewu is designed by Prof. Jacob F. Klinkhamer in Delft and Mr. B. J. Ouëndag, architect in Amsterdam, but then for the construction the D.W. Hinse is commissioned to became in-house architect with the plans of the building, to commence and lead the work. Its explained in Het Administratiegebouw der Nederlandsch-Indische Spoorweg-Maatschappij te Semarang, Nederlandsch-Indië Oud en Nieuw, Volume 1 Number 1, May 1916. translated by Ir. Tjahjono Rahardjo

The D.W. Hinse wife's tombstone in Ci Guriang
springs in Bandung.
Its interesting! So its seems like D.W. Hinse after His task is done in 1907 when the Lawang Sewu construction is accomplished and officialy inaugurated, He still spent His life in Semarang. But another interesting story is about His wife. Well, I tried to to know more about this person D.W. Hinse but it tooks me to the site of the fellow heritage preservation activist in Bandung, Paman Ridwan (See His sites here), that there’s a neglected tombstone in the natural springs in Bandung that belongs to the D.W. Hinse wife! In the tombstone is written as follow,

9 MAART 1859
13 JANUARI 1903

In His sites, Paman Ridwan also written if He then found an obituary in Het Nieuws van de Dag – De Kleine Courant, stated the Elisabeth Adriana Hinse-Reiman died the January 14th in Bandung, from Her husband D.W. Hinse, in Tjandi Semarang. Well another pieces of mistery, D.W. Hinse also lived in Tjandi like Thomas Karsten, a notable Dutch architect. The tombstone now laid in the natural spring of Ci Guriang, and used as the washboard, sounds strange eh? The area once is a kerkhof but then its demolished to built a sport complex, GOR Pajajaran. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Combination of Javanese Pendopo and European Theatre Building called Sobokartti

The Gambang Semarang  Dance performance at Sobokartti, performance by Gambang Semarang Art Company on 2014.
(courtesy: Adityo Cahyo)
On Thursday, 10 December 2015, I was attended the discussion held by The Java Institute, a research group about Java Island as economy, ecology, social, natural resources and cultures entity, based in Catholic University (UNIKA) of Soegijapranata. The theme of the discussion is about Thomas Karsten, the prominent architect from the colonial period, delivered by Dr. Joost Cote, currently a academician in Monash University with a primary research interest in early twentieth century history of Indonesia. Its not my first time following his lectures, but that day, its just a small group of discussion, so its better than before.

Me and Dr. Joost Cote during the discussion, thanks Pak Tjahjono for taking
this photos.
Dr. Joost Cote, explained about the creation process of Volkstheater Sobokartti, as a people’s theatre, giving an alternatives space for the indigenous people of Semarang specifically, to enjoy the Javanese cultural performance. De Volkstheater Sobokartti, or now simply known as Sobokartti, is really unique because its combined the Javanese Pendopo design, a place to performing traditional dance with the European style theatre. Here, Karsten as a brilliant architect were combined it and this is were built in the situation where the economic condition in Semarang were growth well. A lot of new middle class people, a lot of residencial area were built and even the kampong itself were revitalized through the Kampoeng Verbetering programs, where the Gemeente (city council) providing the basic needs for the residencial area like drainage system, sanitation, and access to fresh water. Thus on that condition, its created people demand to developed their own culture, the Javanese culture. They conscious as the Javanese people, even in the harbor city like Semarang that actually less having strong cultural roots, its supposed to preserve their own culture. Commonly, the people thinks those people in Vorstenlanden area like Sultanate of Yogyakarta, Principality of Pakualam, Principality of Mangkunegara, and Sunanate of Surakarta having strong cultural roots, because its still in form of kingdom with all of those manners. 

Karsten (marked with x) during a visits of  Rabindranath
Tagore to Mangkunegara Palace. Beside Rabindranath
Tagore is Mangkunegara VII.
(source: Leiden University Library)
Thomas Karsten really concerns about Javanese culture. He even having really strong relationship with Mangkunegara VII, the ruler of Principality of Mangkunegara. Karsten designed the pendopo in the front gallery of Mangkunegara palace, that supposed to be the biggest Javanese Pendopo in Indonesia. Interestingly, according to Dr. Joost Cote, for Karsten all of the Javanese tradition developing in the Vorstenlanden is done, its already end. In Vorstenlanden they have the Keraton (Kingdom Palace), and the tradition only developing there, so Karsten think the Javanese civilization is at stake. So that’s why through the people in Semarang Kunstkring (the Semarang Art Society), with all of the fellow Javanese that having the same idea, the Sobokartti began to planned. In December 9th 1920, its began to created the Volks Vereeniging Sobokartti, a committee to built Volkstheater Sobokartti. The prominent figure behind it beside Karsten is  Mangkunagara VII and Dr. Radjiman, from Boedi Oetomo Organization. Even Karsten already designed its Volkstheater in 1919, but it take a long time before its officially inaugurated on 1930. The design of the building also different from the beginning due to lack of funds. 

But there’s an interesting story, while Pak Tjahjono Rahardjo, a lecturer from UNIKA stated that as He remember from his grandfather, at that time amongst the Javanese people, there’s a opinion only a walthy people could afford performance in Sobokarrti. Well, seems the idea of the inisiator isn’t applied well. Maybe because of its design, that combined the Javanese Pendopo and European Theatre, because none of partition in Javanese Pendopo, its open so that everybody could enjoy the performance. But the Sobokartti is different, its closed, it have a tribune, and also have a ticketing counter. Maybe because of that differences, people just don’t get used to it. Its even happens nowadays, Pak Tjahjono also a activist in Sobokartti, and every He and His fellow in Sobokartti creating something inside, less people coming, but its different when they held event outside, in the outer pendopo that still in form of Javanese Pendopo, more people coming. 

De Volkstheater Sobokartti, taken in 1993.
(source: PKMvR Heritage Research Consultacy
But for me, maybe Karsten is right. As a harbor city, Semarang people are used to be a economy-minded, everything has a price. So that’s why, even for this one, maybe Karsten wants to the artist get money from this, the performance has to be monetized! And its normal in the harbor city like Semarang when the people bit individualistic. But even the Javanese proverb have something related with this, Jer Basuki Mawa Bea, if its translated Jer Basuki (an achievement) –Mawa  (needs) –Bea (Cost/Sacrifice), see? ;) 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Where is The Exact Place of De Locomotief Office?

De Locomotief office that situated in Hoogendorpstraat 20-22 just like its written in its headlines (see the inzet). Hoogendorpstraat currently became Jalan Kepodang, and this photos is taken on 2007, long before the 2nd floor part is collapsed in early of 2015.
De Locomotief was the first newspaper published in Semarang. It was established in the middle of 19th century and led by Pieter Brooshooft, an ethical political activist. The daily was originally named Semarangsch Nieuws en Advertentieblad. In 1863 it was renamed De Locomotief, after the passage of the first train in Semarang. The paper was closed, but in 1947 De Locomotief was re-opened again. According to Rukardi Achmadi, a notable Semarang historian In 1957 due to the Indonesian confrontation with the Dutch related to the Papua Barat (eng:West Guinea) issue , the newspaper was closed and the building was taken over by Tempo Media Group, and there they runs the newspaper named Suluh Marhaen until its banned by the government under Soeharto regime on 1966 due to its political affiliations. 

De Locomotief office condition, shortly after I got information about the exact
place of this from Indische Literarire Wandelingen but its already in ruins.
Trace back De Locomotief office, Senarai Bangunan dan Kawasan Pusaka Kota Semarang (List of the Heritage Building and Area in Semarang) issued in 2006 stated that the building currently used as Bank Mandiri KCP Kepodang. Its a national bank branch that situated in the crossroad between Jalan Kepodang and Jalan Suari. Then in, also stated that place is supposed to be the location of De Locomotief Hoofdredactie. But if we check through the photo’s archive  of KITLV and Tropenmuseum either. The building that currently used as Bank Mandiri KCP Kepodang isn’t the De Locomotief daily office. Its a Nederlandsch Indische Handelsbank, a Dutch private bank that established in 1863 and nationalized by the Indonesian government in 1957 and renamed into Bank Umum Negara (BUNEG). BUNEG then changed its name into Bank Bumi Daya and following the major restructurisation of the national banking company in 1999, Bank Bumi Daya mergered with three others bank, Bank EXIM, BAPINDO and Bank Dagang Negara formed Bank Mandiri. Thus the asset now belongs to Bank Mandiri. So its became clear that building isn’t De Locomotief office. 

Inside the ruins of De Locomotief building. On the
opposite is the former office of one's of the largest
export-import company during the colonial period
Geo Wehry & Co.
In the headlines of De Locomotief its written that the address of the office is in Hoogendorpstraat 20-22, Semarang. Currently the place that used to be named as Hoodendorpstraat is changed into Jalan Kepodang, but the problem is, is it the numbering of the building still following the numbering during the colonial period? Then in June 2015, I got the answer!  A website named “Indische Literaire Wandelingen” doing the documentation of several building in Kota Lama (eng: old town) Semarang. Its seems like they do it in the 90’s decade (seen from the photos and comparation of the condition of the building), and there, they written about De Locomotief office is located in Jalan Kepodang 20-22, so the numbering  is just the same as during the colonial period.

Unfortunately, when I got there to make a documentation, the 2nd floor part is already collapsed! What a pity! The owner took the teak wood of the 2nd floor, because of some of its got stolen before. Its became a fatality due to the construction of the building still in the old ways, that floor is also use a function as wall holder. Then during our wet season, the wall getting fragiled and collapsed. Only the 1st floor is remained, like a ruins in World War 2 film scene.  Luckily i have a documentation about this building in 2007, but I take it from a bit far distance. At least, I can show to the people how’s look like, De Locomotief  office. A place where ethical politics figure like Conrad Theodore van Deventer struggled for the better condition of the indigenous people of Indonesia through the newspaper. Without De Locomotief activities, I simply cant imagined about how the history of Indonesia would written. Surely its a really important building as a part of our struggle for independence, but now its forgotten and slowly perished.

NB. This article firstly published on November 9th 2012, but then due to these new fact about the exact position of the De Locomotief office, so I completely change the old version of the articles. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Luxury Office of Oei Tiong Ham Concern

The luxurious entrance in Oei Tiong Ham Concern Headquarters.
inzet: the inscription that indicated Liem Bwan Tjie as the
architects of this building also the year its finished, 1930.
In economy, we recognized conglomerate company model. Its a combination of two or more corporations engaged in entirely different businesses that fall under one corporate group, usually involving a parent company and many subsidiaries. Conglomerates are often large and multinational. Conglomerates also often related to the tycoon, a billionaire! Here in Semarang, its widely known about the story of the first tycoon in South East Asia, a man who have a reputation as “200 million guilder man”.

His name was Oei Tiong Ham, I’m not going to write down about his biography, because you can find it easily in the internet. But I’m going to write down about his legacy, a luxury-three story building that used to be his company headquarters, located in Kota Lama (eng: Old Town), Semarang. It’s a bit hard to going inside, exploring the proof of Oei Tiong Ham Concern conglomeration success story. But, when there’s a will there’s a way! Last week I used to help the Dutch Experts related to the heritage preservation from Missing Link. One’s of the activity is inviting the owner of the buildings in Kota Lama area. Then I met with Mas Nur, the Marketing Manager of PT. Rajawali Nusindo, the company that used to managed the legacy of Oei Tiong Ham Concern after the whole assets is confiscated by Indonesian Government in 1961. Well, its supposed to be a great company, but, just like the others company who managed the asset from nationalization, the performance is declined, not as good as its supposed to be. Hehehe, back to the story, then together with two vrouwen from Missing Link, Pauline and Esther, we explored this building, with the permission from Mas Nur of course.

Mas Nur from PT. Rajawali Nusindo (current owner of the
building) shows the secret cabinet in the meeting rooms to
Paulie, one's of the expert from Missing Link.
Taken from the 3rd floor, office and warehouse as well! 
One things that I have to say when I entering the building is, enormous! All of the material which used here seems to be the finest material that they can get at that time. High quality and colourful marbles used as the floor tile and also wall decoration. Here also in the entrance we found the inscription that the building is finished on 1930, and designed by Liem Bwan Tjie, the prominent Chinese architect, that supposed to be the first Chinese descent architect in Indonesia also.  The building, in my opinion is really a models of green building. Its have a good ventilation to managed the good air circulation from the side wall and also from the roof. There’s a special form of glass ceiling to maximize the application of natural lighting. But rather than using all of these advantages of design, the people there currently made some modification that even make all of these things become useless. Like the adding of air conditioner system and the heat pump, they placed it inside the building also, then you can imagine how it’ll made the building so “warm”. Also several ventilation are closed, and so much modification in its lavatory. Even the main hall, now functioned as warehouse also. Screw it all! At least this building are still in good condition, because of still in used, not abandoned like several building in Kota Lama. We also can find the secret cabinet behind the wall decoration in the meeting room. Wow! What a functional design!

Oei Tiong Ham itself never worked in this building, because its finished in 1930, he already died 6 years before, on 1924 in Singapore. At that time the Oei Tiong Ham Concern runs by his successors, Oei Tjong Hauw, the sons of Oei Tiong Ham from his 4th wife.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Enormous Size of Beringin Tree and The Sanatorium

The site of the Sanatorium building, turned into an empty land with a huge Beringin tree in the center. It could be the biggest Beringin tree in Semarang city.
During my childhood in 1997, my family moved into Semarang. Our family occupied a house in Cinde Barat neighborhood. I lived in that neighborhood until 2000, the housing complex that used to be a chinese cemetery in the past and has a hilly contour. Sometimes in Sunday, together with my siters, we have a jogging to the highest place in the neighborhood that has a huge Beringin tree (eng: Weeping fig, latin: Ficus benjamina). Its even visible from the main street,  and widely known as haunted place. There’s a big abandoned colonial building that attracted me surround the tree’s but due to the reputation as the haunted place, my sisters always prevented me to entering the building. In 2003, I entering the Junior High School in SMP Negeri 8 Semarang, in the foothill where this colossal trees is situated. I just got the answer from my friends in the school that the name of the building is Sanatorium. But then when I came back to visited it, only the right wings of the building remains, and its completely destroyed when I came to  visit again in 2007.

The Sanatorium photos around 1946-1948.
(source: Nederlands Instituut voor Militaire Historie)
Long time ago before antibiotics for tuberculosis symptomps are founded,  most of people in the world are feared with this kind of disease caused by microbacteria infections. Tuberculosis caused the most widespread public concern in the 19th and early 20th centuries as an endemic disease of the urban poor. Thus, there’s a facility named Sanatorium, to treated the people with tubercolusis and this also an effort to prevented the spreading of the infection among the people.  There’s basic aspects that sanatorium have to fulfilled it, the fresh air. Most of the sanatorium are built in the remote areas, mostly in the hilly area.  The combination of high altitude, fresh air, and good nutrition is believed to the basic needs for the patient with tubercolusis to get better condition.

Semarang, have its sanatorium in Karanganyar Gunung, the hilly area in the southern part of the city. Until now still there’s exact date when its built, but if we checked through the map archives of the KITLV (Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde), the sanatorium is still undepicted in the map until 1920’s. In my opinion, it could be the year its built is not so far from the another sanatorium in Salatiga, 1934, the only sanatorium remains in Central Java provinces, now turned into respiratory hospital called Rumah Sakit Paru dr. Ario Wirawan Salatiga. The building of Semarang Sanatorium is have been long abandoned since 1978, when the authority felt the location is not fit anymore as a sanatorium due to the pollution rate. The building then owned by leading Indonesian-based ceramics tableware, Sango. There’s a rumour among the people surround it that the owner planned to build the hotel in that place, so we’ll see is that tree are going survived? But, there’s a popular story also that no one’s able to cut down the trees, because once they do it they will suffer’s from illness until death. Beringin tree, moreover on that enormous size, always brings a lot of stories that hard to explained by logic. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Trace Back The Semarang City Tram History

The participant of Lopen Semarang events "Telusur Jalur Trem" taking photo together in front of former head office of Semarang Joana Stoomtram Maatschappij (SJS) in Pengapon, Semarang. Behind this building once are existed the main SJS werkplaats (eng: workshop), but now is already un-used and abandoned. (photos by: Adityo Cahyo)
Semarang, in the late of 19th century was growth into one’s of the important city in Dutch-Indies, a main port city with trade and services based. The people soon comes into this city, wishing  to get the better job and welfare. This urbanization flow makes Semarang density were increasing from time to time, thus a better city transportation were urgently needed. This challenge were answered by NV. Semarang Joana Stoomtram Maatschappij (SJS), a steam tram operator company that got the concession from the colonial government to served the needs of public transportation in the city of Semarang until Juwana. The president of SJS, Mr. H. M. A. Baron van Der Goes van Dirxland got this concession via Besluit van den Gouverneur-Generaal No.5 dated March 18th 1881. Soon, the historical moment came on December 1st 1881 when its inaugurated the first line of the city tram service between Jurnatan Station until Jomblang Station.

The map depicted the city tram lines in Semarang
on 1913. (source: Leiden University Library)
This first line extending along 4.4 KM from through the Mataram Weg (Now Jalan MT. Haryono). The citizen of Semarang were amused to this new kind of transportation technology. But new technology always broght a funny stories at the beginning. Liem Thian Joe, a famous journalist wrotes that the natives and the Chinese are believed that this kind of vehicle were moved by intangible creatures, and it needs a human sacrifice. Thus, they never let their kids going outside in the evening, afraid of they’ll be taken by the creatures. But soon this rumours were disappeared together with the important role of this means. On March 3rd 1883 its inaugurated the two new lines, there are Jurnatan Station until Bulu Station, through the Aloon-Aloon (City Square) and Bodjong Weg (Now Jalan Pemuda), also from Jurnatan Station until Samarang NIS Station, the major railway station at that time that also the first railway station in Dutch-Indies, later Indonesia.  Then on July 2nd 1883 its inaugurated the line from Jurnatan Station until the new harbor, and the last is on November 4th 1899 when its inaugurated the line between Bulu Station until Bandjir Kanaal West Station, through Boeloe Weg (Now Jalan Mgr. Soegijopranoto). Besides the station, this tram line were served by several stopplats (eng: Tram Stop) there are in Kemijen, Aloen-Aloen Semarang, Bodjong, Karangturi and Bangkong.

The tram services in Semarang city by SJS were using the B12 series locomotives, produced by NV. Werkspoor from Netherlands and also the same type produced by Beyer-Peacock, England. This locomotief have classification as 0-4-0 locomotives, which 0-4-0 represents one of the simplest possible types, that with two axles and four coupled wheels, all of which are driven. The rail used the 1067 mm gauge, common gauge for Indonesian Railways, and above it the tram could reach its maximum speed of 25 km/hours. One’s of the B12 series locomotive now is preserved as a monument, in front of Pasar Turi Station, Surabaya.

The Djomblang Station on 1915. Its also depicted on the picture
the B12 locomotives series by NV. Werkspoor, Netherlands.
(source: Leiden University Library)
Hmmm, why its in Surabaya? Well the stories goes on. The development of the city tram in Semarang were not as good as in the other city like Batavia (Jakarta) and Surabaya, which also electrified in the beginning of 20th century. The city tram development in Semarang were getting stucks, its still using the steam power that needs the teak wood, which is the price are expensive, as its firing. Then on the 1940, the Gemeenteraad (eng: City Council) of Semarang decided to closed the city tram operation. Its gained a mass protest among the Semarang citizen but the policy are goes on. Then the locomotives and the trains that once used to serviced the city tram in Semarang, were moved into the Surabaya. That’s why now, one’s of them are preserved in Pasar Turi station, Surabaya.