Handinoto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, is an architecture lecturer at Petra Christian University in Surabaya. He says the mansion once belonged to the Dutch colonial government and was used as the headquarters of the administration in eastern Java.
After Herman Willem Daendels arrived as the Dutch colony’s governor in the early 19th century, the headquarters was moved to another location and the building was abandoned.
An ethnic Chinese doctor named Teng Sioe Hie bought the building, possibly in partnership with a Chinese-Indonesian volunteer group. During the 1948 conflict, Teng opened his doors to hundreds of ethnic Chinese refugees from Central and East Java. About 25 families stayed on in the mansion because their homes had been burned down or forcibly taken over, and they became the founders of a multi-generational residents’ group.