Last Updated: November 14th, 2018
If you’re getting off at LRT Carriedo Station, one imposing edifice that’s hard to miss is the Don Roman Santos Building fronting Plaza Lacson. With its Ionic columns and Greek-style facade, it’s one of the oldest buildings in the district of Escolta that stood the test of time.
1. Built in 1894, Don Roman Santos Building was designed by Don Juan de Hervás. Although commissioned to work on the plans and design for the building, he did it for free.
2. The building first served as the headquarters of the Monte de Piedad Savings Bank.
Monte de Piedad was considered as the country’s first savings bank and was originally established to provide collateral-backed loans to very poor people. The funds used for the bank’s initial capitalization came from the Archdiocese of Manila in the amount of 33,959 pesos.
Interestingly, the late President Manuel L. Quezon once worked for Monte de Piedad as a clerk for 25 pesos a month.
3. It incorporates Neoclassical and Renaissance architectural style in its design.
Neoclassical is a revival of Classical architecture during the 18th and early 19th centuries. A neoclassical design has these defining characteristics– clean and elegant lines, uncluttered appearance, free standing columns, and is usually massive.
In the Philippines, some examples of neoclassical architecture include the Manila City Hall, Malacañang Palace, Manila Central Post Office, Malolos Cathedral, National Museum, and Tondo Church among others.
While in other countries, some great examples include the Rotunda of Mosta in Malta, the Prado Museum in Madrid, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest, and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris among others.
Originating in Florence in early 15th century, Renaissance architecture was a revival of ancient Roman forms which places emphasis on symmetry, proportion, geometry and the regularity of parts as they are demonstrated in the architecture of classical antiquity (Roman architecture).
Some well-known buildings that incorporate Renaissance architecture in their design include the Florence Cathedral, Saint Peter’s Basilica, Palazzo Farnese, San Giorgio Maggiore, Saint Paul’s Cathedral, and the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. among others.
4. During World War II, the building housed the American Red Cross Hospital to treat the wounded.
5. When Prudential Bank acquired the building in 1952, it was renamed after its owner, Don Roman Santos. Don Roman’s business empire had interests in agriculture (fishing and fish culture, farming), and financial services (life insurance, banking).
6. The Don Roman Santos Building was expanded in 1957 to add more floors to the structure.
When Prudential Bank was acquired by the Bank of the Philippine Islands in 2005, the ownership of the building was also transferred.
Today, the Bank of the Philippine Islands still occupies the ground floor of the building. After asking around, no one seems to know if any tenants occupy the upper floors of the structure.
The Manila Project
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