Club Lusitano is proud to celebrate its 100 years at its Ice House Street location. Extracts from the Club’s 150th Anniversary History.
“By the late 19th Century a decision was made to move Club Lusitano in order to find a more central location for the members. There had been a significant migration of the Portuguese community away from Mid-Levels to other parts of Hong Kong and Kowloon and transportation to Shelly Street from other parts of Hong Kong, namely by sedan chair, was not as convenient as it is today. Showing great foresight, one of its members Mr. A.M.L. Soares bought a plot of land on Ice House Street and then on-sold it to the club at cost. That decision continues to benefit our members to this day as our current building stands on this same land.
The Shelley Street property had been sold for a highly acceptable price for those days, but the new building and its furnishings still had to be financed; this was done with loans from the same Mr. A.M.L. Soares who had first bought the land and the government of Macau furnished by the Banco Nacional Utramarino on exceptionally good terms.
Mr. Soares was a generous philanthropist and established the Ines Soares Scholarship in memory of his wife to assist Portuguese students in their courses especially in medicine at the Hong Kong University. The move to the new premises was substantially delayed by these financing problems, political turbulence in Portugal and the onset of World War 1. On 17th December 1920 the 54th anniversary of Club Lusitano, the first stone of the new clubhouse was laid in the presence of Sir Reginald Stubbs, Governor of Hong Kong, and Henrique Monteiro Correa da Silva, the Governor of Macau.
Some of the newspapers of that time placed this memorable event on the front page. The official presence of the Governors of the two colonies and the numerous Portuguese who witnessed the ground-breaking ceremony were reported in terms that drew attention to the community’s nationalist sentiment. The independent republican weekly “O Liberal” wrote:
By 3:45pm there was already a large crowd of people who had gathered early to choose a good place for watching the ceremony which had been set to start at 4:00pm. In effect, a few minutes later, their Excellencies… arrived.. .and after their speeches the foundation stone was laid in the formal style that could be expected of his Excellençy with the trowel and hammer in his hands. He laid in the place where the original stands, a stone inscribed with the following text “The Founding Stone of the new Club Lusitano Building was laid/on 17 December 1920 by His Excellency the Governor of Macau Mr. Henrique Monteiro Correa da Silva, Captain of the Navy, Knight of the Order of the Tower and Sword ‘War Cross 1st Class, in the presence also of His Excellency the governor of Hong Kong, Sir Reginald Stubbs, K.C.M.G.
The speech given by the President of the club was filled with references to the motherland and the Portuguese spirit:
“Today we have had the great satisfaction of seeing His Excellency the governor of Hong Kong standing alongside His Excellency the governor of Macau, representative of the proud, spirited Lusitanian race, honoring the Portuguese Community for which Club Lusitano is a focus for our sincere acknowledgement of Hong Kong‘s hospitality and for sublime love for our beloved Country, our adorable Portugal!’”
Letter from Consul-General of Portugal in Macau & Hong Kong:
Act of Inauguration of the New Premises of Club Lusitano Hong Kong, 13th May 1922:
Translation of Act of Inauguration of the New Premises of Club Lusitano Hong Kong, 13th May 1922:
On the13th day of May in the year nineteen hundred and twenty two, in this city of Hong Kong, being present:
His Excellency, the Governor of Macau, Mr Henrique Monteiro Correia da Silva, Naval Captain Lieutenant, Knight of the Order of Castle and Sword, recipient of the War Cross First Class , D.S.O.;
His Excellency, the Governor of Hong Kong, Sir Reginald Stubbs, K.C.M.G.;
His Excellency the Most Reverend, the Bishop Domico Pozzini, Apostolic Vicar of Hong Kong;
The Consul-General of Portugal, His Excellency, Mr Antonio Luis Cerveira de Albuquerque e Castro;
Other dignitaries and guests invited to attend the Inauguration Ceremony of the new Club Lusitano building at Ice House Street.
The ceremony format was as follows:
At the door of this new building, the President of the Club, Mr. Antonio Ferreira Batalha Silva Neto, presented the key to His Excellency, the Governor of Macau and invited him to open the main door, which His Excellency proceeded to do in a most formal style.
After this act, invited dignitaries and guests lead by His Excellency, the Governor of Macau, entered the new Sala “Luis de Camoes”, where Mr. President gave his speech.
He drew attention and explained the most important aspects and details in relation to the Club.
He welcomed most warmly His Excellency, the Governor of Macau and took the opportunity to acknowledge the Governor’s character and military bravery and his excellent skills as a colonial administrator. He thanked him for his invaluable help not only to the club, but also to the Portuguese Community in Hong Kong.
As a thank you and in a gesture of gratitude, Mr. President declared that a portrait of His Excellency would be hung in a place of honour in the new building as testimony to the level of gratitude and esteem the Portuguese Community in Hong Kong held towards His Excellency.
The following speaker was His Excellency the Governor of Macau, who thanked the President for such a warm welcome and reception. He ended his speech by toasting to the Club’s prosperity and the prosperity and unity of the Portuguese community in Hong Kong.
At the end of the Governor’s speech, Mr. President made another speech addressing His Excellency, the governor of Hong Kong, Sir Reginald Stubbs and thanked him for his kindness and the honour of his presence, not only at the opening ceremony but also for attending the occasion of the turning of the first sod of the new building.
The President ended his speech by praising him and presenting a gift as recognition of His Excellency’s support to the Club.
The Governor of Hong Kong in reply thanked the most generous praise and offered his best wishes for the prosperity and success of the Club.
After the speeches the most Reverend, Bishop Dominico Pozzini, who was especially invited for this purpose, performed the Blessing Ceremony of the new Club Lusitano.
To preserve a record of these known facts for the coming generations, it was entrusted to me to write up this Act of Inauguration and I, Eusebio Honrata de Aquino, Knight of the Order of S. Tiago, in the Imperial Service and being the Club’s oldest member and nominated Secretary for this solemn act, which I have recorded and endorsed after all present committee had signed.
(With signatures of all present committee)
Extract from the front page of the Hong Kong Telegraph 13 May 1922: