Designed by prominent architect G.D. Coleman and built in 1827, The Arts House is Singapore’s oldest colonial building. It served many uses and was the Parliament of Singapore until the new Parliament Complex was built. In 1992, it was gazetted a national monument and is today home to The Arts House.
Site of the building was occupied by the temenggong of Johor and his followers
Irish architect George Coleman designed and built a neo-Palladian residence for Scottish merchant John Argyle Maxwell. Upon completion, Maxwell leased it out to the government for use as a Court House.
A single-story building was constructed next to the main building to serve the new courthouse (Annex Building today). Later, an extension was built to accommodate the recorder, the jurors and the prisoners.
Court House relocated to a new building, the Attorney-General’s Chambers. The main building was retained as the Council Chambers and the annex as the Post Office.
Main building extended towards the Singapore River and eventually used as the Supreme Court.
After major reconstruction to both buildings, the original Neo-Palladian style was diluted with compositions of late Victorian styles. A third storey was added over the front porch, and the Annex later served as a District Court.
Supreme Court moved to a new building and the site remained as a government storehouse.
At the end of the Japanese occupation of Singapore during World War II, Maxwell’s building was used by the newly-created Department of Social Welfare and other government departments as a storehouse.
Officially declared as the Assembly House on 9 July.
The building was renamed the Parliament House when Singapore gained independence.
Parliament House moved to a new building on North Bridge Road.
Parliament House reopened as The Arts House.