I remember this place from 4 decades ago. In 1967, I came here to collect my prize for winning the Inter-School General Knowledge Quiz. I was in Secondary 1. I also came here to play badminton. Today, the badminton courts have been converted into offices (walk in through the front glass door and straight ahead were the courts).
There was a Hainanese canteen operator then who had a signature dish called "Minute Steak" - green peas, French fries and beef. I am not sure about it now, but in front of the building, facing what is the ECP today, was the swimming pool (raised above the ground) and a concrete diving board like the old Chinese Swimming Club. The swimming pool was facing the curved curved end of YMCA which is now occupied by the Keppel Flyover. Under the curved building was the open space for customers to dine. The kitchen was just behind it - the present small door in that building lead to the old kitchen.
Palmer House lies at the end of Palmer Road and is just behind the Singapore Polytechnic. In those days, Palmer Road was very different from what it is today. The road to get into Palmer Road is different from today's direction. You had to pass the temple (on your left) and then drive under a row of wooden houses (imagine going to a cowboy fort). The coolie quarters was also a part of the Palmer Godowns.
Below is a map of the vicinity scanned from my 1963 street directory. You can compare it with that of a recent map. It looks like the present Palmer Road is not the same as the old one – probably has been added on in recent times. As you can see, at that time there was no ECP. That place used to be sea. But, interestingly some of the old places are still there.
1. The Hock Teck See Temple is still there. In the old days, it was spelt Ho Teck Su.
2. The Keramat Habib Nor was built in 1890 by Syed Mohammed bin Ahmed Alsagoff and is still maintained by his descendents. Meaning "a sacred place" in Malay, a Keramat is the traditional burial ground of a revered leader. The Masjid Haji Mohamed Salleh, renovated in the mid-1980s, is located within its vicinity (Source: Singapore Infopedia)
3. The Parsi Burial Ground of course is no longer there. But you can still see some step which presumably led to it from Palmer Road.
For more information about the person after who Palmer Road has been named and the history of this place, please go to the Singapore Infopedia website.