Back Heritage » Saigon » The History of The Nguyễn Văn Hảo Building, Saigon's Art Deco Flatiron

The History of The Nguyễn Văn Hảo Building, Saigon's Art Deco Flatiron

The Nguyễn Văn Hảo building is perhaps Saigon's best example of art deco flatirons. Standing just across from Ben Thanh market, many of us pass it each day with no knowledge of its history. We've again enlisted the help of historian, Tim Doling, to give us some background on this beautiful building.

One of the real architectural gems in this part of the city, the flatiron building at the junction of Trần Hưng Đạo, Ký Con and Yersin streets (original address 19-21 boulevard Galliéni) was built 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. Although now in poor condition, the flatiron building is still fully occupied by tenants – including, on the top floor, descendants of Nguyễn Văn Hảo.

Related Articles:   

The Story of Saigon's Floating Hotel

The Story of Saigon’s Opium Refinery

Can Saigon Preserve its Historical Architecture? 

A interesting side note, courtesy of Walter Pearson: It was Nguyễn Văn Hảo who paid for the construction of the Nguyễn Văn Hảo Theatre on the corner of Trần Hưng Đạo and De Tham - now the Ho Chi Minh City Drama Theatre - which, in 1945, was the venue for the public meeting which resolved to launch the August Revolution in the south. 

If anyone has more information to add, let us know in the comments below!

Tim Doling is the author of The Railways and Tramways of Việt Nam (White Lotus Press, 2012) and the forthcoming book of walking tours entitled Exploring Hồ Chí Minh City (Nhà Xuất Bản Thế Giới, Hà Nội, 2014) and conducts 4-hour Heritage Tours of Historic Saigon and Cholon. For more information about Saigon history and Tim's tours visit his website, Historic Vietnam.

Related Articles

in Saigon

10 Old Photos Of Carriages In Saigon

Before motorized transportation was the norm in Saigon, horse-drawn carts were used to move both goods and people.

in Saigon

10 Old Pictures (and History) of the Saigon Opera House

The Saigon Opera House (aka the Municipal Theatre) is one of Saigon’s oldest buildings and one of the city’s best examples of classical French architecture. Constructed at the turn of the 20th century...

in Saigon

10 Old Pictures of Advertisements in Saigon

Before 1975, large advertisements were commonplace in Saigon. But after the American War and the fall of capitalism in the South, ads were considered a vestige of the old order and were heavily regula...

in Saigon

10 Old Pictures of Art Deco Buildings in Saigon

Art deco is by far our favorite architectural style, one which luckily, Saigon has in spades. However, with each passing day, these buildings are being torn down to make way for modern structures whic...

in Saigon

10 Old Pictures of Cars in Saigon

Though cars have been present in the country since the turn of the 20th century, decades of war (1941 – 1975) and an economic stagnation (1975 – 1986) drastically reduced the number of automobiles in ...

in Saigon

10 Old Pictures of People in Saigon

We often look to old buildings in order reconnect with the past since they are clear and static reference points. Though useful, another important window into the past is the day-to-day lives of peopl...

Partner Content