Century-old Saigon villa stuck in conservation quandary

By Duy Tran   May 28, 2017 | 03:39 pm GMT+7

The owner has been told she must retain its original colonial features rather than knock it down to build a new property.

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The villa, built in 1921 on what is now 137 No Trang Long Street, Binh Thanh District, is covered in weeds and could collapse at any time.

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The 443-square meter villa has been in limbo for around a year as city authorities consider it a heritage building due to its age and colonial style. This means its original structure has to be preserved and the owner is not allowed to knock it down to build a new house.

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Toppled timbers inside the house. A woman from the neighboring Binh Duong Province bought it in June and was having it pulled down before authorities stopped her.

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A neighbor said the house has become a home for stray cats. “The owners just come once in a while to have a look while the authorities are just ignoring it.” 

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Early this month, she sent a petition to the city’s construction department asking for permission to demolish the rest of the house, but no approval was given.

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Some reliefs from the house were sold at an antique market in the city before authorities stepped in.

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The house has been mentioned in historical records as one of the most beautiful villas of the former Saigon.