Ho Chi Minh City realises the importance of preserving heritage structure, including former French buildings. Last to be included into a list of city-level architectural heritage sites are close to 100 villas as well as churches and convents.
After years of precarious existence in the face of constant development in Thu Thiem Peninsula South of Ho Chi Minh City, two Roman Catholic institutions have finally achieved protected status. According to local Vietnamese paper Tuoi Tre, the chairman of Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee, Nguyen Thanh Phong, recently approved the decision to give Thu Thiem Parish Church and Lovers of the Holy Cross Convent the status of city architectural sites. Both religious structures are located in District 2.
Jean-Louis Tabert, Vicar Apostolic of Cochinchina, formally established the Thu Thiem Congregation of the Lovers of the Holy Cross in 1840. In 1859, Father Gabriel Nguyen Khac Thanh was put in charge of building the first Thu Thiem Church right next to the convent.
With this listing, the buildings are safeguarded from any construction and exploitative activities within their premises, the municipal People’s Committee noted. Future land use requests regarding the heritage sites must go through the committee.
Authorities have also finished assessing the preservation status of 86 old villas within the bounds of the city, though the classification process is still ongoing. Experts estimate that there is still a total of 900 villas all over HCMC which could be preserved for their architectural value. The listing follows the official issue of criteria elements which determine the conservation status of Saigon’s heritage buildings constructed before 1975.
Ho Chi Minh City authorities list 16 villas in Group 1, which comprises buildings that will be preserved as they are. 49 villas are in Group 2 and will have only their exterior aspect preserved; Group 3 comprises 17 villas which can be rebuilt. Most villas and heritage structures are located in District 1, 3, 5 and Thu Duc.
Other heritage buildings include most of the city’s pagodas and buddhist temples as well as imposing structures such as the Post Office, the HCMC Pasteur Institute, Le Hong Phong High School and Binh Tay Market.