Constructed in the 1950s, the Victoria Road Detention Centre served as the headquarters of the colonial police force’s secret intelligence agency.
Nicknamed the White House due to its exterior appearance, it was originally an engineers and soldiers’ clubhouse in the hilly west of Hong Kong Island.
The detention centre was the only dedicated building of the police “special branch”.
During the 1967 leftist riots, suspected spies, political prisoners and rioters were taken to the facility.
Inspired by the Cultural Revolution in mainland China, the riots saw bombs strewn across Hong Kong’s streets, and left over 50 dead in the city.
But in 2013, the government approved a plan to allow the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business to build a new campus over the site.
Construction began in 2016 and is expected to be completed in August 2018.
Although there are plans to retain parts of the White House, how well exactly it will be preserved remains to be seen.
The former detention centre is listed as a Grade Three Historic Building by the Antiquities Advisory Board – the lowest ranking for heritage preservation in Hong Kong.
The board’s stance on Grade Three buildings is: “Preservation in some form would be desirable and alternative means should be considered if preservation is not practicable.”
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