Old Saigon Building of the Week – Second Chambre de Commerce Building, 1928

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The Hồ Chí Minh City Stock Exchange building today

This article was published previously in Saigoneer http://saigoneer.com

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The Chambre de commerce de Saïgon building, pictured soon after it opened in 1928

Originally founded on 3 November 1867 in temporary accommodation in the compound of the Direction de l’Intérieur, the Chambre de commerce de Saïgon (Saigon Chamber of Commerce) moved into 11 place Rigault de Genouilly (now 11 Mê Linh) on 30 September 1868, where it remained for 60 years – for details, see First Chambre de commerce building.

However, in 1927 it was decided to build a larger and more imposing seat for the Chambre de commerce, next to the Bến Nghé creek, in the heart of the city’s wealthy financial district.

The building was inaugurated on 24 March 1928 at a grand reception attended by the Governor of Cochinchina. Its eclectic design incorporated both neo-classical and art deco features and also featured several Chàm and Khmer references.

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The Diên Hồng Hall in 1969

During the Japanese occupation, the building was occupied by the Japanese military and was used briefly as an interrogation centre. It subsequently became a French military headquarters.

In 1955, the old Chambre de commerce building was transformed into a conference facility known as the Diên Hồng Hall (Hội trường Diên Hồng), after the Diên Hồng conference (Hội nghị Diên Hồng) of 1284 – described by some historians as the first democratic gathering held in Việt Nam – which was convened by King Trần Thánh Tông to discuss military strategy in the face of the second Mongol invasion.

At this time, a statue of King An Dương Vương, ruler of the early Việt kingdom of Âu Lạc, was installed in the gardens in front of the building. From 21-24 October 1957, the Diên Hồng Hall was the venue for the 9th annual session of the Consultative Committee of the Colombo Plan for Co-operative Economic Development in South and Southeast Asia.

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In recent years, the gardens in front of the building and the statue of King An Dương Vương have disappeared to make way for the underpass leading into the Thủ Thiêm Tunnel

In the wake of constitutional changes in 1967, the Diên Hồng Hall was transformed into the seat of the newly-established upper house or Senate of the South Vietnamese National Assembly. The sentry posts installed at that time on the rear walls of the Diên Hồng Hall compound survived until 2012, when construction began on a new tower block behind the original building.

Used as a meeting room by a succession of local government agencies after 1975, the Diên Hồng Hall was taken over by the State Securities Commission of Việt Nam (Ủy ban Chứng khoán Nhà nước) in 1996.

In 2000 it was refurbished to become the Hồ Chí Minh City Securities Trading Centre (HoSTC), Việt Nam’s first fully operating stock exchange. Its name was changed to Hồ Chí Minh City Stock Exchange (Sở Giao dịch Chứng khoán Thành Phố Hồ Chí Minh) in 2007.

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The Hồ Chí Minh City Stock Exchange building viewed from District 4

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The wrought iron work on the front doors of the Hồ Chí Minh City Stock Exchange building still carries the initials “DH” (Diên Hồng)

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.

Join the Facebook group pages Saigon-Chợ Lớn Then & Now to see historic photographs juxtaposed with new ones taken in the same locations, and Đài Quan sát Di sản Sài Gòn – Saigon Heritage Observatory for up-to-date information on conservation issues in Saigon and Chợ Lớn.

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