Former Alt House | グラバー園公式ウェブサイト

Former Alt House

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The Former Alt House is believed to have been designed by a Western architect, but it was built by Japanese carpenter Koyama Hidenoshin (1828–1898) sometime around 1865. The house was built for the British merchant William John Alt (1840–1908) and his family. Alt arrived in Nagasaki in 1859 and soon made a fortune exporting tea, vegetable wax, and camphor oil. In 1868, he left Nagasaki and moved his family to Osaka. After their departure, ownership of the Former Alt House passed through a number of hands, including a Methodist women’s school and the US consulate, until the Ringer family acquired the house in 1903. It stayed in the Ringer family until the start of World War II, and it was acquired by Kawanami Industries Co. Ltd. in 1943. After a long period of neglect following the war, the house was purchased by Nagasaki City in 1970. The Japanese government designated it an Important Cultural Property in 1972. The architectural design is a hybrid of Western and Japanese styles. The Tuscan pillars around the veranda and portico are distinctly Western, as are the chimneys, but the building is a Japanese timber-frame construction and the roof is clad with traditional clay tiles.

The Alt House Floor Plan

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In the early 1860s, William J. Alt (1840–1908) hired master carpenter Koyama Hidenoshin (1828–1898) from Amakusa, Kumamoto to build a house at No. 14 Minamiyamate, one of the most desirable residential lots in the Nagasaki Foreign Settlement. Koyama was known as a capable builder who could adapt Japanese construction techniques to meet the preferences of Western clients. Construction of the house began in 1865. The floor plan of the Former Alt House was preserved by the Koyama family. The paper bears the watermark “C. Ansell, 1863,” the name of the paper manufacturer and the date the paper was made. The names of the rooms and their dimensions are written in English, but the builders added notes and measurements in Japanese to facilitate the construction process. The document provides a valuable glimpse into the early meeting of Western and Japanese architecture.