The Agnes Keith House in Sandakan, Sabah, holds a significant place in the region’s history and culture.It allows visitors to delve into the British North Borneo era through the experiences of Agnes Newton Keith, an American author who resided there from 1934 until after World War Two. Agnes Keith’s autobiography provides valuable insights into life in Sabah during that period, making the Agnes Keith House a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and those seeking to immerse themselves in the rich heritage of the region.
History of Agnes Keith House
The Agnes Keith House has a captivating history that spans several decades. The original house where Agnes Keith lived sadly fell victim to the ravages of war. However, it was meticulously reconstructed in 1947 to replicate its original design and later restored in 2001 to preserve its historical significance. The restoration efforts have successfully recreated the house’s ambiance, allowing visitors to experience it as it was during Agnes Keith’s time in Sabah.
During World War Two, Agnes Keith and her family were captured and interned by the Japanese. She chronicled her experiences in her autobiography, “Three Came Home,” which shed light on the challenges and resilience of the prisoners during that tumultuous period. Agnes Keith’s book became widely acclaimed and further solidified the significance of the Agnes Keith House as a historical treasure.
Architecture and Furnishings
The Agnes Keith House showcases the unique colonial architecture and houses an impressive collection of colonial furniture and antiques. The architecture of the house reflects the influence of the British North Borneo era, with its distinctive features and design elements. The attention to detail in the furnishings adds to the authenticity of the museum, allowing visitors to step back in time and appreciate the elegance and style of the era.
For example, as visitors enter the Agnes Keith House, they are greeted by the grandeur of the colonial-style furniture in the living room. The carefully crafted wooden furniture, adorned with intricate carvings, reflects the craftsmanship of the period. The dining area is furnished with an elegant dining table and chairs, creating a sense of refinement and sophistication. These colonial artifacts offer a glimpse into the lifestyle of the British residents during that time.
Gallery and Exhibits
The first-floor gallery of the Agnes Keith House is a treasure trove of history and storytelling. It is dedicated to showcasing the life and achievements of Agnes Keith, her books, and her family. Visitors can explore exhibits that provide a deeper understanding of the daily life and culture during the British North Borneo era. The gallery is adorned with photographs, artifacts, and personal belongings that provide a vivid picture of Agnes Keith’s life and the historical context in which she lived.
One notable exhibit in the gallery is a collection of Agnes Keith’s personal letters and manuscripts. These handwritten documents offer a glimpse into her writing process and the emotions she experienced during her time in Sabah. Additionally, the gallery features a display of the books Agnes Keith authored, including “Land Below the Wind” and “White Man Returns.” These books not only provide insight into her experiences but also serve as valuable historical records.
Location and Accessibility
The Agnes Keith House is perched atop Jalan Istana hill, approximately 10km from Sandakan Airport. Its elevated location provides visitors with magnificent views of the surrounding area, including Sandakan Bay. The house is easily accessible by various transportation options, making it convenient for both local and international visitors to explore its historical significance.
To reach the Agnes Keith House, visitors can take a taxi or use ride-sharing services from Sandakan Airport. The journey takes approximately 20 minutes, depending on traffic conditions. Alternatively, visitors can opt for public transportation, such as buses or minibusses, which frequent the area. The accessibility of the Agnes Keith House ensures that visitors can easily include it in their itinerary when exploring Sandakan.
Visiting Agnes Keith House
The Agnes Keith House warmly welcomes visitors daily from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. Upon arrival, visitors are greeted by friendly staff who provide information about the house and its history. To enter the house and explore its exhibits, there is an entrance fee of RM2.00 for Malaysians and RM15.00 for non-Malaysians. These fees contribute to the preservation and maintenance of the house, ensuring that future generations can also enjoy this historical gem.
Special discounts are available to make the Agnes Keith House accessible to a wider audience. Children under 12, Malaysian students, seniors, and disabled individuals enjoy free or discounted entry, allowing them to learn and appreciate the history of the region. Guided tours are also available for those who wish to delve deeper into the stories and significance of the Agnes Keith House. Knowledgeable guides provide insightful commentary, enhancing the visitor’s experience and understanding of the house’s historical context.
Sandakan Heritage Trail
The Agnes Keith House stands as a significant stop on the Sandakan Heritage Trail walk. This trail offers visitors the opportunity to explore various historical and cultural landmarks in the area, providing a comprehensive understanding of the rich heritage of Sandakan. Including the Agnes Keith House in the trail allows visitors to gain a deeper appreciation of the historical context and the stories behind the house.
The Sandakan Heritage Trail encompasses other notable sites, such as the Sandakan Memorial Park, which honors the prisoners of war who suffered during World War Two, and the Puu Jih Shih Buddhist Temple, known for its stunning architecture and serene atmosphere. By embarking on the Sandakan Heritage Trail and visiting these attractions, visitors can gain a holistic understanding of the region’s history and cultural significance.
Nearby Attractions and Facilities
Adjacent to the Agnes Keith House is the English Tea House, a charming spot where visitors can relax and enjoy refreshments. Set against the picturesque backdrop of Sandakan Bay, the English Tea House offers a tranquil setting for visitors to unwind after exploring the Agnes Keith House. The tea house’s colonial-style architecture and delightful afternoon tea make it a popular spot among locals and tourists alike.
In addition to the English Tea House, there are other nearby attractions and facilities that visitors can explore to enhance their overall experience. The Rainforest Discovery Centre, located just a short distance away, offers opportunities for nature enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the beauty of the Borneo rainforest. The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre provides a chance to witness these incredible creatures up close and learn about conservation efforts. These attractions and facilities complement the visit to the Agnes Keith House, allowing visitors to create a well-rounded itinerary and explore the wonders of Sandakan.
Agnes Keith’s Book
Agnes Keith’s book, “Land Below the Wind,” holds great significance in relation to the Agnes Keith House. In her autobiography, she eloquently describes the beauty and significance of the new house she resided in. Her vivid descriptions evoke a sense of nostalgia and transport readers back to a bygone era. The passages from her book provide a deeper understanding of the historical context and the emotional connection she had with the Agnes Keith House.
For example, Agnes Keith writes about the breathtaking view of Sandakan Bay from her bedroom window. She describes the golden hues of the sunrise casting a warm glow on the water, creating a serene and picturesque scene. Her words not only capture the physical beauty of the surroundings but also convey the emotional attachment she had to the house and the memories it held. Reading her book before or after visiting the Agnes Keith House adds another layer of appreciation for the rich heritage it represents.
For more information about the Agnes Keith House, visitors can refer to the provided contact information. Whether it is to inquire about specific details, arrange guided tours, or obtain additional information, the staff at the Agnes Keith House are readily available to assist visitors. By reaching out and engaging with the dedicated team, visitors can ensure a more enriching experience during their visit to the Agnes Keith House. CLICK HERE.
The Agnes Keith House stands as a testament to the historical and cultural significance of the British North Borneo era. Through its architecture, furnishings, and exhibits, it offers visitors a captivating journey into the past. The restoration and preservation of the house, coupled with Agnes Keith’s autobiography, provide valuable insights into the region’s history and the experiences of those who lived during that time.
A visit to the Agnes Keith House is a chance to step back in time and immerse oneself in the stories of the past. The house’s location atop Jalan Istana hill offers breathtaking views and serves as a reminder of the beauty of the surroundings. By exploring the gallery and exhibits, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of Agnes Keith’s life and the cultural context of the British North Borneo era.
As part of the Sandakan Heritage Trail, the Agnes Keith House allows visitors to embark on a comprehensive exploration of the region’s historical and cultural landmarks. The nearby attractions and facilities, such as the English Tea House and the Rainforest Discovery Centre, further enhance the visitor’s experience, creating a well-rounded itinerary.
Plan a visit to the Agnes Keith House and be transported to a time of elegance, resilience, and rich heritage. The stories and artifacts within its walls bring history to life, offering a unique opportunity to connect with the past. Immerse yourself in the captivating narratives and embrace the historical treasure that is the Agnes Keith House.
Agnes Keith House. | Photo by : Sabah Museum.