From the northern edge of the Padang, Stamford Road zigzags its way past the Colonial District’s most important sight, the National Museum, passing three grand surviving examples of colonial commercial architecture: the 1930s Capitol Building, at the corner of North Bridge Road; Stamford House, built in 1904 at the corner of Hill Street; and the red-and-white Vanguard House, completed in 1908 at the corner of Armenian Street. Each has had an illustrious past – the Capitol Building as a theatre and cinema, Stamford House as an annexe to the Raffles Hotel (they were designed by the same architect) and as a major shopping centre, and Vanguard House as the headquarters of the Methodist Publishing House, then much later as home to the flagship store of the MPH bookshop chain. Despite regular maintenance that has kept their ornamented facades in tiptop condition, all now serve much more mundane roles hosting offices and run-of-the-mill shops.

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