Bethanie is a former sanatorium built by the Paris Foreign Missions Society in 1875 where French priests can recuperate from tropical diseases at the time. It sits in a complex, which also includes two cowsheds and sprawling grounds, located on the picturesque hills Pok Fu Lam in western Hong Kong.
The Neo-Gothic building is one of the few remaining French colonial architectures in Hong Kong after being saved from demolition in the late 70s. Almost derelict, interests in the preservation and restoration of Béthanie rose when it was declared a Grade II historic building in 1981. In 2003, Bethanie House received funding from the Legislative Council of Hong Kong (LEGCO) for its renovation.
To restore its former glory, the building's original furnishings such as the chapel's altar and stained glass windows, were searched for and recovered. Replicas were made for items that were never located. While most of the building's historical appearance were preserved, modern elements were also added to make it suitable to the present time.
The complex reopened in 2006 as the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts’ School of Film and Television. The chapel in the main building, now called George C. Tso Memorial Chapel, has been beautifully restored and is now used in religous services. Other areas of the building were converted into classrooms and studios.
The basement of Bethanie, which used to be a wine cellar and dry goods storage, now houses a museum displaying historical items of Bethanie and the French missionary’s activities in Asia throughout the past 300 years.
The two hexagonal cowsheds were transformed into a theatre (Wellcome Theatre) and exhibition space.
Bethanie is located at 139, Pok Fu Lam Road, in Hong Kong Island. Guided tours are available in three languages (English, Cantonese and Putonghua).