This Singapore post office was designed by Colonial Engineer Maj. Henry Edward McCallum (later Sir Henry McCallum) and completed in 1884.
In 1919, a Shanghai-based architectural firm, Keys & Dowdeswell, won the competition for the design of a new Singapore post office. Moving to the island city in 1920, Maj. Percy Hubert Keys and his junior partner, Frank Dowdeswell, brought with them the concepts of classic Greek architecture, then de rigueur for conveying the power and splendor of the British Empire. The foundations for the post office were laid in 1924, and the building completed in 1928.
Raised on the site of Fort Fullerton – named for Robert Fullerton, first Governor of the Straits Settlements – the edifice was dubbed the Fullerton Building. The General Post Office (GPO) was the anchor tenant, occupying the first two floors with postal halls, offices and sorting rooms. The building was connected to a subway that ran underneath Fullerton Road to a pier, where overseas mail was transferred to and from ships.
The exclusive Singapore Club rented the upper floors of the building, where members dined, lounged, played billiards and lost/won at cards.
During the Japanese invasion of Singapore in 1942, the building was briefly used as a hospital, with makeshift operation rooms for wounded soldiers. After the surrender of British forces, the Fullerton Building was commandeered as a headquarters for the Japanese military administration.
The Japanese reopened the post office within a month of taking control, and initially used the colony’s existing stamps for postage, overprinting them with Kanji characters.
By the end of 1942, they were printing unique stamps for their new possession, renamed “Syonan.” The occupation lasted three years and eight months, ending with Japan’s surrender to the Allies in 1945. Stamps that had been spirited to safety in the first days of the war were returned to Singapore, and put back to work as postage.
The Post Office left the building in 1996 and it is today the five-star Fullerton Hotel.