(CNN) -

In a city that changes as fast as the weather, it can be easy to overlook Hong Kong's past.

But on a winding street in Wan Chai, one of the city's oldest neighborhoods, a house painted brilliant blue stands out.

The "Blue House," a Chinese tenement building from the 1920s, is at the heart of a cluster of historic buildings that paint a picture of old Hong Kong.

Home to the Hong Kong House of Stories, an eclectic museum and community center that offers tours of historic sites in the area, the building provides an important glimpse into the neighborhood's rich history.

A block away, 50-story highrises loom and preservationists worry about the impact of gentrification on the neighborhood's character.

"We want local people to tell local stories," says Maria Kwok, a volunteer tour guide who has lived in Wan Chai for almost three decades.

"If you come back in a few years, this neighborhood may have completely changed."

The Blue House itself, which packed working class families into tiny rooms after it was built in the 1920s, is the first stop on the heritage tour.

Tenement houses like these were once common in the neighborhood and the city.

Now, along with two other tenements next door, the Blue House is one of the few remaining.

Temples, post offices, war

In the surrounding blocks, other old buildings, like a tiny 1847 temple and a prim 1915 post office, are slipped between apartment towers.

Of note is Pak Tai Temple, a Taoist temple built in 1863 and an oasis of incense-scented calm.

The House of Stories also offers a nighttime "haunted tour" that shares "spooky tales" of the neighborhood's most eerie sites.

The Japanese bombing and occupation of Hong Kong during World War II fuel stories of ghosts in Wan Chai.

"People come for the fun but they also learn about the history," Kwok says.

The two or two-and-a-half-hour tours, all led by community locals, cost HK$60 ($7.75) per person, with private group tours for a minimum of HK$600 ($77).

Visitors should schedule tours in advance over phone or email (see below).

Nonprofit and school groups receive reduced rates.

The House of Stories also organizes concerts, movie nights and art workshops on Thursday nights.

People regularly wander into its welcoming, living room-esque space, which is full of old knickknacks and historic books donated by neighbors who've moved out.

Renovation and preservation

Upstairs, the Blue House is in the middle of a government-supported renovation to preserve its architecture and improve living conditions for residents, some of whom lack air conditioning and even toilets in their century-old flats.

While there are other historic renovation projects underway around the city, the Blue House effort is unique in that original residents will stay in their homes, says Mirana Szeto, a Hong Kong University professor who consulted on the project.

"We're not preserving an old house and its original culture, we're preserving a living community," Szeto says.