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Sun Yat-sen is probably the most beloved figure in the history of China. He is sort of like a Chinese George Washington, and is thought of as the “Founder of Modern China”, 国父. Visiting this mansion where he and his family once lived will give understanding and appreciation of both Chinese history and Hong Kong’s history.
The museum is a worthy tourist attraction. It is important both as a historical site and as an architectural attraction. The museum exhibits explain not only about Sun Yat-sen and his life and influence, but also about the life of his wife and descendants via pictures, documents, and letters.
Refined interior decoration, furnishings, and glasswork show how rich Chinese lived in the early 20th century. It also exemplifies the merging of Western and Chinese tastes and architectural ideas.
The permanent exhibition called Dr. Sun Yat-sen and Modern China gives an account of his life and world-wide travels and adventures, from his boyhood in Hawaii to his meetings with political leaders all over the world. It tries to explain his influence in the anti-Qing revolution.
The permanent exhibition called Hong Kong in Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Time attempts to show what Hong Kong was like 100 years ago and how the colony influenced his outlook.
As you go up the various floors, you’ll learn about progressive stages in his life. The main ballroom shows a video documentary about the original owner and exhibits about the Ho family.
He had an interesting life. He was born in Guangdong Province in 1866 to a family of farmers. When he was 13, he moved to Hawaii to live with his brother. There, he excelled in his studies and received a prize for outstanding achievement.
He became a Christian when he was in his twenties and attended a Christian medical college in Hong Kong. He was one of the first Chinese to receive a medical degree in Hong Kong.
He met others who hoped to transform China, and in 1894 started to travel widely around the world to achieve this goal. It is interesting that some of his first supporters were Chinese living in Hawaii.
He became the first president of the Republic of China government in 1912.
The museum is housed in the Kom Tong Hall (甘棠第). It is quite a big and stately English-style four-story brick mansion replete with big columns. The building helps us understand how the richest Chinese people lived in Hong Kong 100 years ago.
It was built in 1914 and is one of the first steel-framed buildings constructed in the city.
The Ho family sold it in 1959, and it was later sold to a church organization. In 1990, the building was declared a historical monument.
In 2004, the government acquired the building, and the museum was opened in 2006.
Sun Yat-sen never set foot in the building, but was often in the area. It is near the Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail.