Rumah Penghulu Malay House, Kuala Lumpur

The Balai hall, looking towards the main entrance to the private area The Balai hall, looking towards the main entrance to the private area

The Rumah Penghulu Abu Seman house was built in stages between 1916 and the 1930s. Penghulu Abu Seman bin Nayan was a local headman in Kampung Sungai Kechil of Kedah state. There are three main sections of the house. The main portion, or rumah ibu, was originally built for Tok Taib of Kampung Paya Takong, whose heirs sold it to Penghulu Abu Seman in 1924. He then moved the house to his village, and over time added a kitchen / dining room wing as well as an 'office' wing called the balai.

When Penghulu Abu Seman passed away, his son Ibrahim bin Abu Seman inherited the house. Unfortunately, when Ibrahim died he left no heir and the house was left vacant. It was discovered by Badan Warisan - the Heritage of Malaysia Trust - around 1995 and acquired from the heirs of Ibrahim. The trust then carefully dismantled the house and moved it to Kuala Lumpur, where it was reconstructed on the grounds of the trust near Bukit Bintang. The restoration was completed and the house opened to the public in 1996.

Heritage Trust Offices Heritage Trust Offices

While the house is just a stone's throw from a major tourist area, it doesn't get many visitors. As one of the few traditional houses open to visitors in Kuala Lumpur, it really does deserve a lot more visitors than it gets. I was the only one there on the day I visited.

The Heritage Trust and the Rumah Penghulu house are open Monday to Saturday, with guided tours of the house at 11:00 am and 3:00 pm. For a guided tour, there's a required donation of 10 Ringgit (2.04 USD). The Heritage Trust offices have a nice shop as well as a small gallery. See the Bukit Bintang map for location.