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Restored Pegu Club Receives Heritage Trust Blue Plaque

By Marie Starr 30 May 2019

YANGON—The 136-year old teak clubhouse and former gentlemen’s club during colonial rule, the Pegu Club was awarded a Blue Plaque by the Yangon Heritage Trust on Thursday at a ceremony attended by the trust’s founder, U Thant Myint U, Yangon Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein and secretary of the Myanmar Investment Commission U Aung Naing Oo.

The ribbon is cut to mark the installation of a Blue Plaque at the Pegu Club on May 30, 2019. / Aung Kyaw Htet / The Irrawaddy

The Pegu Club was reopened in late 2018 after undergoing extensive restoration efforts. Constructed in 1882, it was originally an exclusive club for colonial elites and Asians were not allowed to hold membership. During World War II, the building was used as a private club by the Japanese. It was officially closed in 1965 and nationalized by the socialist government in 1975. The Pegu Club sank into obscurity from the early 2000s until it was leased by KT Group, which undertook immense restoration efforts with guidance from the Yangon Heritage Trust. Today it serves as an exclusive venue for private events.

Yangon Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein ceremoniously splashes the newly-installed Blue Plaque with blessed water at the Pegu Club on May 30, 2019. / Aung Kyaw Htet / The Irrawaddy

 

This is the 30th Blue Plaque awarded by the Yangon Heritage Trust and the Yangon City Development Committee. The plaques are installed at significant points around the city to commemorate and honor important heritage landmarks, events or people in the city.

At the event, Deborah Kyaw Thaung, executive director of KT Group, thanked Yangon Heritage Trust for their guidance in restoring the “iconic building.”

An interior view of the newly restored Pegu Club on May 30, 2019. / Aung Kyaw Htet / The Irrawaddy

“Conserving the Pegu Club has become our passion and we firmly believe it will play an intrinsic role in community development and wellbeing,” she said.

“It is our intention that the Pegu Club will be seen as a national treasure which serves the people of Yangon and our visitors from near and far, a place where arts, culture, business, education and wellbeing are all addressed and promoted.”

An inner courtyard at the Pegu Club. / Aung Kyaw Htet / The Irrawaddy

For decades before the restoration, the Pegu Club sat unoccupied and collecting dust. Though much of the century-old teak was said to be in considerably good condition, partitions, ceilings and staircases had weakened significantly through dampness and weathering, and some plasterwork was green with mold and crumbling.

The main entrance of the restored Pegu Club. / Aung Kyaw Htet / The Irrawaddy

The Pegu Club is where the famous cocktail by the same name is said to have been invented in the 1920s and Rudyard Kipling spent time there while traveling in Myanmar in 1889 too.

An interior view of the newly restored Pegu Club on May 30, 2019. / Aung Kyaw Htet / The Irrawaddy

The KT Group now shoulders the important responsibility of showing the Yangon public, once barred from attending the elite club, how exactly they will help the Pegu Club play a role in “community development and wellbeing.”

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