Indische-style sharehouse in Kramat Jati, East Jak. operating since 1775

Jakarta house nearly two and a half centuries oldThis house — known now as the Cililitan House (Rumah Cililitan) — was  built in 1775 by Hendrik Laurens van der Crap. Classified as an “Indies Landhuis,” it combines indigenous architectural features (the roof) with Western and/or Dutch ones (the walls inside/under the roof).

That much I knew from the Internet. And from the photo here  I could see the house was still standing as of about 20 years ago.

I also knew it was located in the same part of Jakarta as Kampung Makasar (once a POW camp) and had been used for military or police purposes. For ignorance of both history and architecture —  since I don’t really know much about Crap  — I couldn’t help wondering if it was the “groot huis” (great-house) in the crayon drawing by Erfman (below). Something about the sprawl of it all, I thought.

So I biked out to Kramat Jati to find out. I was a bit doubtful. Jakarta is a place where you constantly run into the coolest things; but you don’t often seek them out, especially old stuff, ’cause you figure it’s no longer there.  So I figured the worst-case scenario was a bike ride to East Jak and back.

In fact, it was a glorious ride and took me to a krupuk factory near the Sharehouse, Becak Cafe (which I didn’t know about), a friend’s house,an old Dutch cemetery in Condet and — sure enough — into the bowels of this 236-year old Indische structure.

The photos are placeholders (shot with mobile phone) since I didn’t even bring a camera and have to go back.

Indonesia is the ultimate DIY tourist destination. You can always count on the official tourism literature to get it wrong and make it boring, and on yourself and the locals to put it all back together again.

Half the fun was the reception I received as — apparently — the first tourist in a groot while. I don’t think it’s Erfman’s house, but it sure is groot — and I recommend a visit. Most amazingly, it’s a sharehouse — quite possibly Jakarta’s oldest operating sharehouse. Under that massive roof there are approximately a dozen tenants — small-scale municipal offices, mom & pop stores,  one guy with a car,  and nearly a half-dozen police families.

Someone says it has the same massive stairs in front as this house, which it does. Besides the tenants, those stairs, dated 1775, and the view looking up were my favorite parts. (There’s not that much to see on the outside and it’s hard to get great photos because of the neighborhood clutter.) But inside it’s very much like being in a large, traditional Balinese house.

Carpe diem instant expat.  It’s next door to Sukatmo (police) hospital and not at all difficult to locate. In fact, like most houses in Jakarta it’s situated in a maze of little alleys with people and vehicles of all descriptions coursing through. But you can see it a good ways off pleasantly looming above the kampong.  It would be spooky and weird as crap as a conventional museum. But with all the kids, cats, rabbits, birds, bikes, balls in there, it’s rather pleasant. They seem to like the place a lot and were a bit equivocal on whether or not I could take out a sublease. Since you can’t get this huis out of the kampung, there’s no point in trying to drive the kampung from the huis.

The structure seems a bit worse for the wear. You can see plenty of pinpricks of sky though the roof tiles and — after 236 years — it still doesn’t have running water.

Thank you Ibu Tami and family!! See you soon.

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