An official building that became the seat of government for Taichung City under Japanese authorities, the Taichung Prefectural Hall went on to play the same role after the Japanese surrender that ended World War II and saw the city come under the authority of the Republic of China (Taiwan). Now it has been listed as a protected national historic site.
Work began on the hall in 1912, with the first phase completed the following year. It underwent a total of four expansions, ending up at its current scale in 1934. It also served as the administrative center of Japanese-era Taichung. After the cession of Taiwan after World War II, the building continued to be the seat of government for Taichung City under the new authorities.
It wasn't until Taichung was upgraded to a special municipality in 2011 that the city finally got a new city hall building. Meanwhile, in 2003 the Taichung Prefectural Hall was named 79th in a list of Taiwan's top 100 historic buildings put together by the Council for Cultural Affairs (now the Ministry of Culture).
The Taichung Prefectural Hall was designed by Japanese architect Matsunosuke Moriyama in a faux-Mansart style using Doric and Ionic columns and a Mansard roof to give it a strong air of officialdom. Together with its reinforced brick structure, the hall is an iconic example of Japanese-era official architecture.
From the front of the hall, the Mansard roof is particularly prominent. The building itself is two stories and roughly L-shaped, with watchtower-like sections connecting each wing with the central section. The first-floor entrance is flanked by Doric columns, while the second floor uses Ionic columns and an inset balcony that creates a shadowed effect.
To further highlight the political status of the building and its importance to the city, it was designed in alignment with the city streets, with the main entrance sitting at the intersection to two major roads. This is a spatial setup characteristic of Japanese-era official buildings.
In April 2017, the Taichung City Government proposed the "Reconstruction of Taichung City's Cultural History (台中文化城中城歷史空間再造)" project — a renovation-and-revitalization initiative encompassing the Taichung Prefectural Hall, the Datun County Office, the complex of buildings affiliated with the hall, and the surrounding space
In October 2018, the Ministry of Culture signed a letter of intent to cooperate on the project. After the restoration is complete, the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts will establish the NTMoFA Taichung Prefecture Hall Park, connecting together the hall, the old city council building, and their surroundings. Restoration of the park area began in April 2019 under the NTMoFA and is expected to be completed in 2021.
Focusing on the recreation of Taiwanese art history, the Taichung Prefectural Hall will be dedicated to modern Taiwanese art exhibitions, while the former city council building will house a national photography organization and a national arts archive. The Ministry of Culture has also recently accepted a collection of some 600 pieces from the Sun Ten Museum of Irvine, California that will be displayed at the hall, marking an important step in efforts to reconstruct Taiwan's art history.