Shuttered maternity home 'last of its kind'

Shuttered maternity home 'last of its kind'
The future of the Salmon Maternity Home building (with yellow doors) at 110 Prinsep Street is unclear. Owner Yvonne Salmon, 87, is believed to have willed it to Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church.

ITS nondescript white exterior gives no hint of the treasure trove of history and heritage within.

While health care has sprinted into the 21st century with cutting-edge technology, the Salmon Maternity Home at 110 Prinsep Street remains trapped in the pre-independence days of the 1950s.

Basins with foot pedals that nurses used to wash newborns in and old beds and bassinets still stand in their original positions. Its 30 wards and at least one delivery room have been left intact for more than half a century.

"It's like a freeze frame of a moment in time. It is so rare to find a medical facility like that in Singapore that has been untouched by development," said conservation architect Lim Huck Chin.

"It could also be the last of its kind in the developed world."

Its rarity and the risk of redevelopment have prompted heritage experts to issue an urgent appeal to its reclusive aged owner for access to document its facilities, old journals, medical contributions and architecture.

Dr Yeo Kang Shua, honorary secretary of the Singapore Heritage Society, believes an impact assessment study should be conducted to determine the building's architectural heritage value, apart from its social significance alone.

"It is important to understand its condition, especially its interiors, since few people have ventured into the building in recent years," he said.

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