TIEN GIANG (VNS)— Despite homeowners' efforts, many nha vuon or garden houses of Tien Giang Province need more restoration to prevent them from falling into disrepair.
According to Truong Hung Dung, head of the province's Relic Management Board, the province has more than 350 garden houses dated before 1940, including 35 older houses of significant value that should be restored.
"Many typical houses located in Cai Lay, Cai Be and Chau Thanh districts are in danger of further deterioration," he said. "However, only a few homeowners have received support from local authorities to restore their houses."
Many homeowners often open their houses to the public free of charge without support from local tourism firms.
Tran Anh Kiet, owner of a garden house located in Dong Hoa Hiep Commune, Cai Be District, said he received financial support from the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) in 2003.
"Most owners of garden houses cannot afford to restore their property," he said. "We are working to find ways to help local residents in preservation."
A typical garden house in Tien Giang has two main parts: a house built with many wooden beams and pillars, and the surrounding garden, designed according to traditional stipulations by Vietnamese in the south and to French architectural standards.
Another distinctive feature of garden houses is that all beams and pillars are joined by mortise and tenons, not nails.
"My grandfather spent four years to build our house. The house's construction was completed in 1880, and it was upgraded several times," said Phan Ngoc Binh, 90, owner of a garden house located in Long Khanh Commune, Cai Lay District.
Binh's house is located on 1,000sq.m of land and includes 140 big pillars made of precious and solid wood.
The house, which has a brick-tiled roof, stands on pillars surrounding a big garden within many trees and flowers.
Traditionally, a garden house cannot be sold outside the family. This custom was initiated to ensure ancestral links to the property. — VNS