This article was published previously in Saigoneer http://saigoneer.com/
One of the real architectural gems in Hồ Chí Minh City’s District 1, the flatiron building at the junction of Trần Hưng Đạo, Ký Con and Yersin streets (original address 19-21 boulevard Galliéni) was constructed in the 1920s to provide both offices and residential accommodation for the family of Nguyễn Văn Hảo, patriarch of the Comptoir Nguyễn Văn Hảo Saïgonnais, one of the city’s leading automotive spares companies which sold vehicle accessories from the shop spaces on the ground floor.
Nguyễn Văn Hảo clearly made a lot of money from this business, because in the 1930s it was he who paid for the construction of the nearby Nguyễn Văn Hảo Theatre, one of Saigon’s earliest cinemas, which in 1945 was the venue for the public meeting which resolved to launch the August Revolution in the south.
After 1975 the old cinema was rebuilt as the Công nhân theatre and today that venue – located near the Trần Hưng Đạo/De Tham street junction – serves as the main venue of the Hồ Chí Minh City Drama Theatre.
But back to the Nguyễn Văn Hảo flatiron building. Although it’s now in poor condition, it is still fully occupied by tenants – including, on the top floor, descendants of Nguyễn Văn Hảo.
Tim Doling is the author of the walking tour guidebook Exploring Hồ Chí Minh City (Nhà Xuất Bản Thế Giới, Hà Nội, 2014) and also conducts Saigon and Chợ Lớn Heritage Tours.
A full index of all Tim’s blog articles since November 2013 is now available here.
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