Mormon Church delays demolition of historic Hong Kong residence

Posted: Friday, November 01, 2002

HONG KONG (AP) -- Hong Kong's Mormons agreed Monday to delay demolishing a historic building that once housed the first Chinese family allowed to live in an exclusive neighborhood of the former British colony.

Spokesman Poon Siu-hong said the church will not dismantle 88-year-old Kom Tong Hall until it completes negotiations with the government. Poon declined to say how the church, which bought the building in 1971, planned to redevelop the area.

The Baroque-style, 20,000-square-foot house is one of the few surviving Western-style houses from its era. The government hopes a compromise will leave the building intact, said Addy Wong, a spokeswoman for the agency handling the issue.

Chinese businessman Ho Kom-tong lived there beginning in 1914 with his 12 wives and concubines and 30 children, according to a Hong Kong University Web site.

Concern over the building's fate has united political enemies, the pro-democracy Democratic Party and pro-China Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong.

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