With its distinctively detailed red bricks styled to the taste of Neo-Georgian architecture, the MacDonald house stands tall along Orchard Road despite having been the site of perhaps the worst ever bombings in Singapore on 10 March 1965.
Built in 1949 by Reginald Eyre of Palmer and Turner, the MacDonald house was the first large scale office building built in the post-war era, with its main tenant being the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC).
It was named after Malcolm MacDonald, the British Commissioner-General for Southeast Asia from 1948 to 1955, who was popular amongst the locals due to his frequent interactions with them.
Yet the MacDonald House is perhaps better known as the site of Singapore’s worst ever bombings by two rouge Indonesian marines, who on 10 March 1965 at 3:07pm, detonated a bomb near the lift on the mezzanine floor of the ten-storey building. The bomb ripped through the lift and caused an inner wall to collapse, resulting in a mass of rubble collapsing into the bank of the ground floor. Every window within a hundred yards was shattered and extensive damage was done to nearby vehicles.
In total, the explosion killed 3 people while leaving another 33 injured. The two marine saboteurs were eventually arrested and hanged on 17 October 1968, an incident that resulted in an attack on the Singapore embassy in Jakarta.
The MacDonald House bombing was the worse of the 37 bombings in Singapore that occurred during the Indonesian Confrontation or Konfrontasi (1963-1966), that arose as a result of Indonesia’s opposition to Singapore’s merger with Malaya.
Today, the MacDonald House stands as the last remaining brick structure in the Orchard Road area and was gazetted as a National Monument in 2003. It is now home to its main tenant CitiBank and Mccann worldgroup.
Many commuters now casually walk past the front of the historic building and its Botticino columns, as a refuge from either the heat or rain from the Dhoby Ghaut station to many other attractions in the Bras Basah. Bugis area.