During the late 1800s, Dhoby Ghaut was the site of numerous firms offering horse carriages and stables. In the early 1900s, when carriages were being replaced by motorcars, Orchard Road became a hub for car showrooms.
The only surviving former car showroom in the area today is 20 Orchard Road, which was built in 1925 by Wearne Brothers as the Malayan Motors showroom for Ford and Morris cars. This building has a distinctive scallop-shaped central arch with a two-storey projecting window and was used as a showroom until 1980.
In 1987, the Singapore Manufacturers’ Association (SMA, now Singapore Manufacturing Federation) occupied the building, which became known as SMA House, and it became a showroom for made-in-Singapore products. Since 2002, the building has housed a campus of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS), Singapore’s oldest not-for-profit professional institute for lifelong learning. SMA House, along with the three-storey shophouses next to it, were conserved in 2000.
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