The Renovation of the Louis Leonowens House

Old house under renovation Louis Leonowens House

Historic house in Lampang

Last week I visited the Louis Leonowens House in Lampang to have a look at the ongoing renovation of the main house and the office. According to a banner the renovation should be completed on October 20 this year. There were people working on the site.
I visited this house for the first time late 2015 to do research for the visit of Oliver Backhouse. Oliver’s grandfather worked as a forest manager for the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation in Lampang and in Chiang Mai. Kanokwan Uthongsap guided me and my British friends, Alan and Jenny Dovey, to the house. We found the house abandoned and in a neglected state.

“Baan Louis”

I have been back to visit the house many times since my first visit. Over the years the “Baan Louis”, as local people call the house, gained recognition from the Tha Ma-O community as a cultural heritage. Kittichai Wattananikorn, the author of several books in Thai and in English about the teak industry in North Thailand, played an important role in this. In January 2018 K.Kittichai gave an excellent presentation at an event organised by the community. Local artists gathered to paint the house and a fingernail dance performance took place in front of the house. Recently the BBC series The Great Asian Railway Journeys, presented by Michael Portillo, featured Kittichai and the Louis Leonowens House.

Renovation of the Louis Leonowens house

It is great to see that the house is being renovated. The house and the land are the property of the Treasury Department of the Thai government. The Northern Forest Industry Organization of Lampang is the supervisor of the property. It resorts under the Forest Industry Organization which is part of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. The renovation of the main house and the smaller office started on March 26 and will be completed on October 23, 2020.