Proper restoration to original state promised for 131-year-old house that was demolished in Phrae

Construction News
Pieces of timber from the dismantled building that once housed the Bombay Burmah Trading Co in Muang district of Phrae are stacked at the site following the demolition. (Photo courtesy of I Green Facebook page)

Proper restoration to original state promised for 131-year-old house that was demolished in Phrae

Fine Arts Department to oversee work, officials deny wood sold off

[Editor – Interested in the history of Thailand’s teak  industry? Read Tracking the teak that transformed Thailand]

The Fine Arts Department (FAD) has promised it will do its best in restoring to its original state a 131-year-old house that was demolished in Phrae, according to the provincial governor.

Kanprempree Chitanont said on Friday that the FAD director-general had offered her the assurances, adding that the department would use teak wood and parts from the demolished building.

Ms Kanprempree denied reports that some of the wood and other fixtures from the former Bombay Burmah Trading Co post had been sold.

The allegations were made by some members of the public after the demolition of the colonial-style building caused an uproar among local residents.

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) also denied claims that some timber had been smuggled away from the site and sold to traders.

Issares Sitthirojanakul, director of the department’s Conservation Area 13 office, said the office had accounted for every single piece of wood from the building, noting security cameras were installed to keep an eye on people working at the site.

Somwang Ruangnivatsai, the DNP deputy director-general, visited the site and said a panel had been set up to investigate the restoration project that led to the building’s demolition. He said the panel would determine whether the contractor followed proper procedures.

The DNP has claimed the demolition of the 131-year-old building was unavoidable as it could collapse any time and posed risks to visitors.

On Wednesday, Varawut Silpa-archa, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, said DNP director-general Thanya Netithammakun told him the building’s concrete foundations were too damaged to be repaired.

Teak wood and other unique elements of the building would be reassembled by experts after foundation repairs are complete, Mr Varawut said.

The minister said the department meant well in trying to give the building “a new lease on life” and he believed the restoration team would be able to restore it to its former glory.

The building once housed an office of the Bombay Burmah Trading Company, which was granted a logging concession in the western Yom River area in 1889. It was located in the Chetawan Arboretum in Muang district.

Residents and conservation groups said the building is part of the province’s legacy.

No study was carried out for the restoration of the building, they said. One conservation group said the demolition took place without consulting the public.

Naruedol Wangthanu, an independent architect, said he was glad to hear that FAD would step in to help restore the building.

However, he said provincial authorities should still pursue legal action against those involved in the building’s destruction.