Red brick mansion with exquisite Chinese woodcarvings
The red house
This red brick canal house is one of the oldest buildings in Jakarta. The name literally means ‘Red Shop’ but this has little to do with the colour of the façade. It was the red coloured wood carvings inside the house that gave it its name. The red bricks are much more recent, they were added in 1923.
The famous wood carvings were handcrafted by Chinese masons for the first owner of the house, the VOC governor general Gustaff Willem Baron van Imhoff.
Early colonial style
The tall façade wouldn’t be out of place along an Amsterdam canal. Toko Merah is a typical example of early colonial style, imported from the Netherlands. It didn’t take long for the architects to realise this style wasn’t very suited to the local climate, so later designs incorporated natural air circulation for a cooling effect with large verandas, balconies and open courtyards.
It was in front of Toko Merah that in 1740 a bloody massacre started, in which thousands of Chinese lost their lives, a dark chapter in the history of Kota Tua.