Gedung Kuning, meaning "Yellow Mansion" in Malay, was probably built around the same period or slightly before the Istana Kampong Gelam (present-day Malay Heritage Centre). Located next to the former Istana, it stood within what was once a royal compound.
Like the Istana Kampong Gelam, the architecture of Gedung Kuning reflects Palladian influence, while the form and internal layout derive from the single-storey, raised Malay house. Designed to admit air and light but exclude glare and rain, louvred windows are an adaptation to suit the tropical climate.
The exterior of Gedung Kuning was constructed using wood and bricks, reflecting its European influences externally.
The interior of Gedung Kuning, like the former Istana Kampong Glam next to it, follows the design of a traditional Malay house.
According to the official sources, the locals referred to this building by several names such as Rumah Bendahara and Gedung Kuning. In 1864, the youngest son of the Sultan of Johor, Tengku Mahmud, named his mansion Gedung Kuning which means Yellow Mansion, after its yellow walls.
In the Nusantara region and Malay world, yellow is the colour often associated with royalty. Yellow is a royal colour commonly associated with Malay Sultans. Since the bungalow was initially built to be the resident for the heir of the royal family, it was probably the reason why it was painted yellow. According to what is being recorded by the historian, this heir refers to Tengku Mahmud. It has become a widely accepted information that Tengku Mahmud may have stayed briefly at Gedung Kuning. Because of its royal connections, the local has referred to the bungalow by many names - such as Rumah Bendahara and Gedung Kuning (Yellow Mansion).
Haji Yusoff, a merchant and philanthropist of Javanese descent, was born in Kampong Glam in 1855. His father, Haji Mohamed Noor bin Haji Ali, came to Singapore from Java in the mid 19th century. Haji Yusoff’s father lived in Kampong Glam, near Istana Kampong Glam, and had a food stall near Kallang River.
In 1912, Haji Yusoff purchased Gedung Kuning and sold it some years later. He subsequently bought it again and this Yellow Mansion served as a residence for Haji Yusoff's family.