Kom Tong Hall was built in 1914 originally as the residence of a local businessman. It passed hands once before being sold to the Mormon church in 1960, who had wanted to redevelop it into larger facilities in 2002. The government stepped in and tried to buy the building to avoid losing it to demolition, and escalated their cause to the church's Salt Lake City headquarters to get an agreement.
Following the government purchase, the building was repurposed into a museum dedicated to Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the revolutinary who ended imperial Chinese rule, and spent his high school and university days in the city.
The large White Hall is richly decorated with plaster panels and gold leaf, although most of the fixtures were removed when the original family moved out and the government tried to ask the descendants to donate what they've got back to the museum.
Exhibits are spread over 3 floors, where visitors can see a beautiful stained glass window and solid wood staircase. To facilitate its modernization, an elevator was built just outside the building while air-conditioning works are concealed on the roof.
The first balcony is quite wide and a popular place for portrait photography.
The building's style is classical with Baroque and Rococo characteristics. A grand staircase runs to the second floor, and was one of the first buildings with a steel frame and concealed electrical wiring.
The upstairs balcony is normally not open to the public, but I was lucky a tour came by and made it accessible. The Mormon church had cared for the building well, and many historic elements have survived. Back in the day, the balconies would have a commanding view of the harbour, although now the views are obscured by highrises all around it.