Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Semarangsche Spaarbank, The First Saving Bank in Dutch-Indies

The current condition of Semarangsche Spaarbank office buildings in Jalan Kepodang 2-4, Semarang 
In 1887, Semarangsche Spaarbank inaugurated their new office buildings which designed by G.L. Verver, an Enginer an also a Mathematics teacher in Hogere Burger School (HBS) of Semarang. The buildings of old H.B.S. Semarang then used as Sekolah Menegah Atas (SMA) Negeri 3 Semarang after independence of Indonesia till today, an high school that equivalent with H.B.S levels actualy. The construction of the building were handled by  F.L. Mahlerwein  as the contractor and costs 10.440 gulden. It takes five months for F.L. Mahlerwein to completed the construction. The Semarangsche Spaarbank office that located in Hogendoorpstraat, present day Jalan Kepodang was mentioned in De Locomotief newspaper in 1887 that the office of Semarangsche Spaarbank consider as most beautiful buildings in town! 

Semarangsche Spaarbank itself were a saving bank which initiated by The Vrijmetselarij (Freemasonry) a well-known fraternity organization to help the people with financial problem and keep them out of hands of the loan sharks. This kind of saving bank was the first to be established in Nederlans-Indie, present day of Indonesia as its mentioned in indischeliterairewandelingen.nl sites "De spaarbank te Semarang is de oudste van alle spaarbanken in Nederland-Indie". 

Semarangsche Spaarbank in 1910. (source: Leiden University Library)
Semarang among the earliest cities in Dutch-Indies to be established the Freemasonry organization. The organization seems to spread quickly around the world, together with the spirit of French Revolution, Liberte, Egalite, and Fraternite. Freemasonry despite its popularity among the conspiracy theory enthusiast, actualy only a common fraternity organization which have an aim to connecting people and hand-in-hand to overcomes social problems without considering any race, religion institutions, and political backgrounds. The place of freemasonry gathering called lodge, and Semarang established its lodge in 1789 named La Constanta et Fidele, means faithfuly forever. 

After the independence of Indonesia, Semarangsche Spaarbank continues its operation.  In 1952, their office have major renovation, and its  looks like to welcoming their 100 years anniversary in 1953. Semarangsche Spaarbank is difference from Postpaarbank, which is nationalized and became Bank Tabungan Negara (BTN). But the fate of the Semarangsche Spaarbank is just the same, following the high tension between the government of Indonesia and Netherlands toward the West Papua issues, the Semarangsche Spaarbank also nationalized by the Indonesian Government. The building itself then owned by CIMB Niaga Bank, and once became the headquarters of this bank for Semarang branchs. But then its moved and the building neglected till todays. The office of Semarangsche Spaarbank that once mentioned to be the most beautiful building in Semarang, today seems in the opposite sides of that.

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