Historical Buildings and Sites in Jakarta : The Traces of the Freemason Movement in Indonesia.


As an old city, Jakarta has many buildings with high historical values. One of the many buildings is Kimia Farma Building located in Jalan Budi Utomo, Central Jakarta.  It was the first building in Asia ever built in Batavia, later known as Loge La Choisie meaning the chosen loge. 

The building was also known as Logebouw De Ster in het Oosten. Locals call it the house of Satan, as the visitors keep secret what they were talking about and do in the building decorated with pilasters and portikus and in the Doric style.

The building was originally built in 1761 by Petrus Albertus Van der Parra and initiated by Jacob Cornellis Matthieu Rademacher, a member of Freemasonry Movement (Vrijmetselaarl)  as a meeting place. In 1848, the building was then renovated to change its front structure from doric style into Indisch Empire style of architecture.At certain moments, Freemasons often held ceremonies with burning candles and wore strange clothes like the clothes of Halloween.
 
Today, the logo of star in the head of the building symbolizing the East Star, "De Ster in het Oosten", or a symbol of free thinking movement is replaced by a rising sun, the logo of PT Kimia Farma, a stated owned pharmacy company of Indonesia. After the independence of Indonesia, the office belonged to NV Pharmciutiche Handels-vereeniging J Van Gorkom & Co was nationalized to become the head office of Bhinneka Kimia Farma, then PT. Kimia farma.The building itself was the location of the convening of the first Indonesian Youth Congress which was on April 30 to May 2, 1926.

The front part of the building remains original but the interior was partitioned by the management due to the office needs, and modified ts indoor space into two levels. The roofs, aged 195 years old, still looks original with golden yellow paint. 

The former name of Jalan Budi Utomo where the building sit was Komidie Burt. The name was given because it was opposite to the theater Schouwburg (now Gedung Kesenian Jakarta or Jakarta Art Building) which established in 1821. After the building erected in 1837, the road name was changed to Vrijmetselaarweg or Freemason Street. Since then, the building became the quarter of Freemason in the East Indies.

Actually, the member of Freemason from Netherlander had lived in Indonesia before 1756. Institutionally, Freemason was formed after the member of Freemason from England entered.  The buldling measuring 20 m x 27 m was initially as a place of worshiping La Vertueuse. 

The building was erected on a plot of land granted by the East Indies Government and designed by a Netherlands Engineer,  J Tromp, the Head of Public Works and Government Buildings. The funds spent on the building were 12,000 guldens. 

The building consisted of three large spaces and six rooms. One of the spaces was functioned as the room of throne. Initially, the building was used for two space of worshiping, La Vertueuse  and La Fidele Sincerite. Previously, the worship place of La Fidele Sincerite located in a logement at Tambora, West Jakarta, then moved to Jalan Kopi, Bandengan Utara, West Jakarta, in 1773; then moved again to Jalan Pos Kota ( formerly called Tijgersgracht), Kota Tua Old City of Jakarta.

Since the establishment in 1769, the worship place La Vertueuse moved many times. In 1780, it resided a house of one of freemason members named Daniel Kreysman, in Jalan Gajah Mada, Gajah Mada Street. From there, La Vertueuse moved to Jalan Budi Utomo. In 1937, two worship places merged into one with a new name Lodge Ster in het Oosten. In 1934, the worship place was moved to Adhuc Stat building, the office of Bappenas, the National Development Planning Agency in Jalan Taman Suropati, Menteng.

Source: cited from Kompas, Monday, 7 November 2016.

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