ts foundation stone was laid in 1893 and the building completed for its first batch of students in July, 1894. This was Block 1 of the old Victoria Institution in High Steet (Jalan Tun H.S. Lee today). Many buildings were added to the V.I. complex over the years. When the present V.I. building was completed in 1929, the V.I. boys moved away from High Steet, the secondary students to the new building on Petaling Hill, the primary boys to the new Batu Road School. Block 1 became the Technical Institute, then High Street School in 1954. Over the years it became, among other entities, the Malaysian Drama Council, then Pusat Seni. By 1999 Block 1 was derelict, boarded up and used by drug addicts who sneaked into its premises, despite its proximity to the Traffic Police Headquarters next door. A fire started by some addicts in July 1999 destroyed the entire wooden structure.
In 2003 the City fathers, in an inspired and laudable move, initiated restoration of the building to its original late nineteenth century state. No architectural plans could be found but archaeological excavations on the site - around and inside the building, helped the architect make some conclusions. Today the building, with its latest monicker - Taman Budaya - is a shining example of Kuala Lumpur's architectural legacy. Only two objects remain to be added back to complete the transformation to the original building - the Royal crest and the date "1893" on the North facade of the building.
Notwithstanding that, Victorians will forever know it as the "Old V.I." Wander around if you are in the neighbourhood. That's the closest you'll ever get to soak up the atmosphere of a long gone era. You can imagine boys of the primary school scurrying around the corridors and ordered ranks of cadets parading on the road outside the southern entrance. If you tried a little harder, you might spot the venerable Mr. Bennet Shaw striding up those steps to his office from High Street.
More on the Old V.I. in The School at the River Bend
The V.I. Web Page
Last update on 31 March 2008.