- Named after the color of the wood work of the interior NOT because of the red brick exterior.
- Formerly known as one of the oldest Marine Academy in the world. The first Nautical Academy in the East.
One incident that was just in front of the building, where the water of Groote Rivier (Kali Besar) flows, a big riots happened when there was a massacre of Chinese people in 1740 by VOC. Toko Merah also witnessed how bad the treatment towards the slaves in Batavia. They were traded and treated like animal. In this place, there were auctions for 162 slaves. In this Ciliwung creek, where the water was clear at those time, also once an area of many young people had their fun time playing their guitars and singing under the moonlight.
In 1786-1808, Toko Merah was used as an official guesthouse for men, which never flourished. After 1808 the house was owned and used by different companies till it was acquired by Oey Liaw Kong and his descendants (1851-1895). This may be why the name of Toko (shop) was added.
In 1910-1925, Toko Merah was rented by the Bank voor Indie and then by other companies (1925-1933). The original white plastered wall on the front was taken away and the red bricks were painted red in 1923. In the same year some parts of the house which had been demolished earlier, were rebuilt using old material to create as near as possible the original atmosphere.
In 1934 Toko Merah was bought by the international trading company N.V. Jacobson van den Berg, which was nationalized in 1957. The company’s logo can still be seen on the balustrade of the staircase.
In Japanese occupation (1942) the building was used as a depot of medical equipment by the Japanese army. After 1947 the house was used by a state company, which since 1977 was named P.T. Dharma Niaga and kept the house in good condition till 2003. For a short time it became a gambling den. Its present use is still uncertain. I visited Toko Merah in June 2014, and the information that I’ve got from the guy who showed me around the building that they are renting the property for event. Well, hopefully the current owner is taking a good care of this beautiful two houses. If I may say.. why don’t they turn this building into a museum and share all the history of this building itself or the (once) oldest Nautical Academy. Sounds more useful.
- Heuken, A., Historical Sites of Jakarta, 7th edition, Cipta Loka Caraka, Jakarta 2007.