A demonstration renovation project
491 Merchant Street may look like an ordinary shop house, but is an example community-based restoration project by Yangon Heritage Trust and Turquoise Mountain Foundation. Wat made it unique was that it was the residents who initiated the project and they actually lived through the renovation.
Founded in March 2006 by The Prince of Wales, Turquoise Mountain is a non-profit organisation dedicated to re-generating historic cities. Alongside restoration work, they support the preservation of traditional crafts through product development and training local artisans. After successful projects in the old city of Kabul, Afghanistan they came to Myanmar. Through the Merchant Street project they have trained over 250 workers reviving traditional skills such as woodwork and lime plaster.
Writer and editor Ludu Sein Win lived here until he died in 2012. He was an important figure in Yangon and Myanmar’s history.
The Hindu shrine under the big banyan tree is looked after by the Kumari family. One of the most sacred items in the shrine is a large round rock. The family pour water on the stone daily and it is believed to have grown in size through this worship!