Hong Wen School was established in 1920 at Queen Street together with the Hin Ann Huay Kuan (huay kuan refers to a Chinese clan association) of the Heng Hua Chinese from Fujian province.
Beginning with just 50 pupils, the school’s history was fraught with difficulties. The economic recession of 1923 forced the school to close temporarily until 1925. In January 1940, when hostilities broke out between the Heng Hua and the Foo Ching Chinese, the Hin Ann Huay Kuan was raided and Hong Wen School was damaged. When the two clans met to resolve the matter, 100 armed Foo Ching rickshaw-pullers stormed into Hin Ann Huay Kuan and destroyed the premises. It was not until the Hokkien Huay Kuan and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce intervened that peace was finally restored.
The school was closed during the Japanese Occupation and, in 1955, Hong Wen School finally found a home at Dickson Road. However, when urban renewal started in the town area in the 1970s and most of the residents started moving out, the school experienced a stark decline in enrolment and a decision was made to relocate to Victoria Street. This new school was completed in 1981 although the school moved again in 2009 to Towner Road where it continues to stand today.
The conserved Dickson Road building is architecturally interesting due to the Art Nouveau tiled decorations on its façade. The Singapore Buddhist Welfare Services moved into the building after the departure of the school and occupied the building until the 1980s. The building now houses a hotel.