House number 78 on Thalang Road, currently the home of Woo Gallery & Boutique Hotel, is a historical witness to the way of life during days gone by. It was formerly a store named “Moh Seng Historic House Museum” that sold and repaired import watches. Owned by Mr Ngor Liat Chan, a Hokkien Chinese, who travelled from the Fujian province in China, in search of better fortunes.
He travelled via Singapore, through the Malacca Strait and Penang, eventually arriving in Phuket. Working here as a watchsmith he fell in love and married Mrs Tan Sew Hong, the daughter of the owner of “Moh Guan”, a household appliances store at number 64.
After getting married they bought house number 78 and setup the watch retail and repair store. The business continued to operate until after the second world war when Phuket entered a period of economic depression and ultimately, they had to close their business.
In addition to being their business premises, number 78 was also home for Mr Ngor Liat Chan and his family. His children grew and eventually left home, and after he and his wife passed, the property was rented out and used as a fabric shop until 2016.
In 2016 Mr Padet Wuthicharn, the third generation of the family and Mr Ngor Liat Chan’s grandson, along with his wife Mrs Nawaporn Wuthicharn, returned to the family home to start restoration of the now dilapidated house. The goal of returning was to transform this once prestigious house back to its former glory.
The restorations took over two years to complete and the Woo Gallery & Boutique Hotel finally opened its doors to visitors in February 2019. From historical records of the land deed issued on the 4 th of May 1915 in the period of His Majesty King Rama VI, this house has a history of more than 103 years.
To faithfully restore the authentic structure was not an easy task, Mr Padet and Mrs Nawaporn had to fully devote themselves to the task to ensure it was correct in every aspect. They have both always had a strong passion for the preservation of historical houses and are keen collectors of antiques.
They journeyed to study the restoration of many architectural structures and consulted with many experts. Subsequently they brought together all the knowledge and experiences they had gathered and applied it to the restoration of this house, to restore its grandeur.
Within the house the Woo Gallery was created to tell the story of the way of life of Chinese migrants who came to settle in Phuket and the ingenuity of their ancestors. The Woo Boutique Hotel also welcomes all visitors who wish to experience the historical architecture of a period house and make the place their home for a few nights.
At the front of the house you will find patterned stucco, window sills, Sino-European style archways, doors and windows with intricate woodwork and many other architectural details typical of the era. Upon entering the house itself, you will be greeted with its structure and layout. Below is the guest reception room and next to it you will find an altar of worship. Deeper within the house are the living quarters with skylights and a water feature along with the kitchen.
An antique wooden staircase leads to the upper floors where the bedrooms, living rooms and an office are located. Many antiques can be seen on display including appliances, sculptured wooden cabinets, an antique steel bed frame, a dressing table, a set of table and chairs, an antique sewing machine, a record player as well as crockeries and Victorian style crystals.
These are antiques that have been collected and passed down through the generations of the family. They were collected and looked after with love and care, and are now carefully displayed in different areas of the house. Every detail within the gallery was designed on the basis of a real living space. Infused with tradition and culture, reflecting the ancient wisdom that was used to design homes and was the architectural character of Thalang Road.