Mention Red House Bakery to old Katong-nites (folks who live in Katong), especially those who lived from the post-war years, and they will fondly tell you of the delicious baked goods it sold. However, the iconic shop with its red architecture features was established in 1925!
In a National Archives quotes, it says “…then, it was a wakaf property, put in trust to the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore by Sherrifa Zain Alsharoff Mohamed Alsagoff, the great-granddaughter of Hajjah Fatimah who built the famous Hajjah Fatimah Mosque at Beach Road. A Jewish man named Jim Baker started the bakery shop. In 1931, a Hainanese seaman, Tan Siang Fuan, paid SGD 600 as “coffee money” to take over the bakery shop from Jim Baker. However, in 1957, the property was declared a wakaf asset together with five other adjacent shophouses along East Coast Road. It was specified that the rental income from the shophouses was to be used to fund Sherrifa Zain’s grandchildren’s education until 21 years after her death. Beyond that, the earnings were to be used to establish and maintain a free clinic, to be named the Al-Taha Dispensary.”
Older folks who have lived in Katong for many decades will tell you of the nostalgic time when traditional cakes and pastries could be bought from this iconic bakery. It even sold delicious curry puffs and soft Swiss rolls. In the 1960s, it was the favourite hangout for local bands, too. In the good old days, regular patrons could pay their goods based on trust. You can basically eat a cake and pay it on another day! Everyone knew each other than so it would be embarrassing to break the trust and personal integrity.
Unique to the project in its heydays was the charming antique floral tiles and wooden furniture that greeted customers upon entry. There was always a feeling of nostalgia when one enters this place. Back in the olden days, it was even a popular venue for “matchmaking” – where prospective couples would be introduced to each other over tea before doing to the nearby theatres to catch a movie.
Today, the shophouse’s structure has been strengthened as it was closed down in 2003 when it was deemed unsafe. In 2016, it opened its swanky interiors to Heavenly Wang which is a casual cafe offering local food and lifestyle offerings, complemented by its adjacent residential heritage development.