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Old Saigon Building of the Week: Maison du Combattant

The project to create a Maison du Combattant (War Veterans Centre) was launched in 1929 by the Amicale Cochinchinoise des Anciens Combattants de la Grande Guerre (Cochinchina Friendly Association of Great War Veterans). Funded entirely from donations, subscriptions and the proceeds of various raffles, the attractive art deco building opened its doors at 23 boulevard Norodom (now 23 Lê Duẩn) in 1932.

Designed for “all victims of the Great War, without distinction of race, religion or society,” it incorporated a bar, a restaurant and meeting facilities. However, its most important facility was its auditorium, which became a popular venue for small-scale music and theatre presentations during the twilight years of French rule.

After the departure of the French in 1954, the building was sold and converted into a small theatre known as the Hý viện Thống nhất (Thống nhất Playhouse)

After Reunification in 1975, it was used for a variety of purposes until 1978, when it was taken over by the current tenant, the Kiến Thiết Lottery Company.

Tim Doling is the author of the forthcoming book of walking tours entitled Exploring Hồ Chí Minh City (Nhà Xuất Bản Thế Giới, Hà Nội, 2014) and also conducts 4-hour Heritage Tours of Historic Saigon and Cholon. For more information about Saigon history and Tim's tours visit his website, www.historicvietnam.com.

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