The Sofaer Building

Located in the commercial heart of Rangoon, the Sofaer & Co. building downtown was at the epicenter of the city in the early 1900s, housing several businesses including the China Mutual Life assurance Co. and shops selling a variety of imported goods; from German beer, Scotch, Egyptian cigars and English sweets. Over time, the building would serve several interests, including as a Reuters telegram office, while the ground floor corner premises were occupied by the Bank of Burma.

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Today, one can still enjoy several original features of the Sofaer & Co. building such as the ceramic encaustic floor tiles — a mosaic pattern of green, gold, burnt sienna and lapis lazuli all shipped from Manchester, England. The steel beams that support the ceiling meanwhile are from the Lanarkshire Steel Company in Scotland.

As for its original constructor, Issac Sofaer; he was a Baghdad-born, Rangoon-educated Jew who was a prominent member of Rangoon society. As well as owning many commercial properties in Rangoon, he was a member of the Municipal Committee, the Excise Committee and highly respected in the Jewish community and was a successful trader with interests in wine & spirits, rice export and oil-man stores.

As a developer, Isaac left behind some of Rangoon’s most important buildings, including the posh Lim Chin Tsong Palace on the southern end of Inya Lake.