The local people called this building as Lawang Sewu (Thousand Gate). This is because the building has so many doors (in fact the door is not up to a thousand, perhaps also because the windows of the building is high and wide, then people also considered them as a doors).
This two floor ancient and magnificent building after the Indonesian independence was used as the office of Jawatan Kereta Api Indonesia (DKARI) or it is PT Kereta Api Indonesia. In addition to that, the building had also ever once used as an Office of Board Komando Regional Military Facility (Kodam IV / Diponegoro) and the Office of the Department of Transportation in Central Java.
During the struggle of independence, this building has a distinctive history record that is when the events a five days Semarang battle that took place in Semarang (14 October – 19 October 1945). This old building became the location of a great battle between youth AMKA or Youth Force against Kempetai Rail and Kidobutai, Japan. Therefore the Government of the City of Semarang under the decree of SK Wali Kota 650/50/1992, include the Lawang Sewu as one of 102 ancient or historic buildings in the city of Semarang that should be protected.
Currently, this more than 100 years old building was empty and poor and it has a bad reputation as a haunted building. Occasionally the building is used as a place for commercial exhibition, such as Semarang and Tourism Expo. It also has been a discourse to change this building to become a hotel. In in the year 2007, the building was also used to make a horror movie with the same title with the building name.