W. Osborn Keats, a colonial architect and Chiang Mai, 1915-1925

December 17

The Talk: In this lecture, I set out to discover the story of Walter Osborn Keats (1872-1938) and of his architectural legacy in Chiang Mai.  Two remarkable heritage buildings associated with Keats have been preserved here: the British Consul’s House (1915), now part of the Anantara Resort, and the former Thaw Chapel at the Leper Asylum (1921-1925), now the Santitham Church at the McKean Senior Center.  It was the latter which Keats regarded as his “chief work” as an architect, although his association with the church has almost been forgotten.  On the search, we shall learn not only about the life and times of Keats himself, but also meet a range of fascinating Chiang Mai people of the period, including the celebrated Consul Wood and his Chief Clerk, Mong Ba Thwin; Dr James D. McKean of the Leper Asylum, his assistant Chantah Indravude, and the community of lepers; and finally Paul A. Reichel, the Architect to the American Presbyterian Mission, and his talented young trainee Mong Tan.  The search will take us back into that “foreign country”, the quite recent past of Chiang Mai and its various communities, a past where people may have done things (and thought about them) differently to us, but whose legacy lives with us – and maybe in us – today.

The Speaker: Graham Jefcoate (1951) is a retired library director whose career included posts in Britain, Germany and the Netherlands.  He has published extensively in the fields of book-trade and library history, and especially Anglo-German cultural exchanges in the 18th and 19th centuries. Recently, he has turned his attention to the Anglo-American community in Chiang Mai at the beginning of the 20th century, and to its architectural legacy.

Event Details

Timing: 7.30pm

École Française d'Extrême-Orient (EFEO)
opposite the Alliance Française