The Taichung Bureau of Cultural Affairs on Sunday said it would request that the government grant national heritage status to Taichung City Hall, which was built during the Japanese colonial era as the seat of government of Taichu Prefecture.
The decision was made after Taichung City Councilor Wang Li-jen (王立任) of the Democratic Progressive Party said the city government was remiss in its duty to preserve cultural heritage sites.
Taichung City Hall was built as one of five prefectural government complexes that the Japanese built in today’s Taipei, Hsinchu, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung, Wang said.
While the prefectural government building in Kaohsiung was demolished in 1987, the remaining four have survived to become cultural heritage sites, he said.
However, of the four surviving buildings, only the one in Taichung has not been granted national cultural heritage status, he said, adding that it is only designated as a municipal heritage site and an upgrade is long overdue.
The prefectural government buildings in Taipei, Hsinchu and Tainan now house the Control Yuan, Hsinchu City Hall and National Museum of Taiwan Literature, he said.
The city government should consider asking the cultural affairs bureau to develop a way of utilizing the building that shows respect for its cultural and historic value, Wang said.
The bureau said the colonial-era structure is included in a Ministry of Culture program to restore historical sites and work is expected to be finished in 2020.
The city is paying NT$86 million (US$2.85 million) of the total construction costs of NT$215 million, the bureau said, adding that it would request that the central government confer national heritage status on the old city hall as soon as renovations are completed.
Any structure that meets the criteria stipulated by the government’s guidelines for national heritage sites should be considered as qualifying for the designation, the bureau said.
Those criteria are historical, artistic or scientific significance; being representative of an artistic style or architectural technique of a historical period; and being rare or difficult to recreate, the bureau said.
Taichung City Hall easily fulfills the criteria of historical and artistic significance, the bureau said.
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