Located on Victoria Street is a prominent four-acre site with a unique blend of historical architecture and modern restoration. With its five neo-Gothic styled buildings, CHIJMES has an old world style that will charm visitors looking for something special in bustling Singapore. Among its buildings are a formal Gothic-styled chapel with beautiful stained-glass panels, and the restored Caldwell House, the oldest free-standing house in Singapore with a sunken forecourt, waterfalls, and fountains. CHIJMES offers an ambiance ideal for relaxing stroll through history and tradition.
This is the best self-contained city block in Singapore. It contains groups of buildings of different styles and periods which, together, are both marvelously consistent, yet interesting in their diversity. They are formed around courtyards and other pleasant spaces, well landscaped and enclosed with walls which are so appropriately in scale with the surroundings. G.D. Coleman's beautiful house is the oldest building in the enclave, which also includes the elegant Gothic chapel and St. Nicholas Girls' School buildings. It was in the Caldwell house that the Sisters did their sewing, reading and writing for so many years in the well-proportioned semicircular upstairs room whilst the 1st storey served as a parlour and visitors' room. The details of the Early Gothic style chapel are quite refined, as is the plaster work, the delicate wall faces frescoes and stained glass panels.
St. Nicholas Girls' School was established in 1933 and, after first holding classes in the 4 old bungalows which formed the Hotel Van Wijk of the 1890s and became incorporated in the Convent grounds, moved to new premises in 1913.
After being granted land in 1849 for the formation of St. Joseph's Institution, Father Nain tried his luck once more for the building of a school for girls. He was refused but, undaunted and after returning re-inspired from his voyage to France in 1852, he bought the Caldwell House for himself and eventually acquired all the 9 lots of land between Victoria Street and North Bridge Road, originally belonging to Raffles Institution. He presented them all to the Mother Superior, the Reverend Mother of St. Mathile who staffed her school with Sisters from the parent Society, the Institute of the Charitable Schools of the Holy Infant Jesus of St. Maur.
The various buildings are related to form pleasant exterior spaces which were used for church school activities until November 1983 when the school vacated the premises. The spaces contained within the whole block were then adapted for public use.