The centre structure is the original temple which is more than a century old.
Situated at Mile 1.5 Jalan Utara, this century old temple was built around 1894 by early Hakka immigrants.
During World War II, a bomb dropped just beside the temple, but no explosion occurred leaving the temple undamaged.
Since then, it has been a sacred shelter for the earlier Chinese communities in Sandakan.
The temple's uniqueness lies in its conservation efforts called 'preservation of a temple within a temple' whereby the old shrine was literally lifted and transferred within a new temple, a first in Malaysia.
Indoor view of Sandakan Che Siang Khor Moral Uplifting Society temple in Panorama.
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Outdoor view of Sandakan Che Siang Khor Moral Uplifting Society temple in Panorama.
From a humble attap ( a wooden hut) this mission station was later transformed into one of the most beautiful landmarks.
In 1952 after the post war years, Rev. Fr. A. Mulders arrived in Sandakan and wasted no time in getting down to business with a bulldozer. He changed the entire mission compound beyond recognition and made it one of the finest sites in Sandakan. In 1961, initiated by Fr. Mulders, Sandakan got the "Most Beautiful Church".
Over 700 parishioners from all walks of life witnessed the consecration in a long but beautiful ceremony solemnized by his Lordship Bishop Buis, CBE, the Vicar Apostolic of Jesselton. After the opening ceremony Rev. Fr. Mulders celebrated the first Mass on the newly consecrated High Altar.
St. Mary's Church continues to stand today as a place of worship for the community of Sandakan. Since then, many outstation missions have been established both in the urban and rural areas of Sandakan.
It is located on the hillside known to the colonials as Elton Hill, after the Reverend WH Elton. In 1888, Elton opened a small school which doubled as a place for prayers, until the idea of building a permanent church took hold.
St Michael’s is one of the very few buildings in all of Sabah to be made of stone. This, plus its Gothic-inspired architecture, makes the church look almost as if it has been transplanted from an English village.
The construction of the church, which took almost 20 years to complete, was begun in 1893, using ironwood, brick and then stone which is reported to have come from Sim Sim. During the wartime bombing of Sandakan, the church caught fire and only the stone walls remained. The church was rebuilt and today, remains one of Sandakan’s most attractive monuments. The road up the hill to the church is still referred to by many locals as Church Road, though the signpost now claims it as Jalan Puncak (Summit Road).
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