MacDonald House was one of Singapore's tallest buildings at 10 storeys

MacDonald House was a prominent Orchard Road landmark during the period of Konfrontasi, from 1963 to 1966, when then-Indonesian President Sukarno waged a "confrontation" campaign to crush the newly formed federation of Malaysia which Singapore was a part of briefly.

At 10 storeys, it was one of Singapore's tallest buildings. The Cathay building nearby was also an Orchard Road landmark at the time, recalled pioneer tour guide Geraldene Lowe-Ismail, 75.

ST 20140216 BOMBLOGOSS2I 4033888m

Ms Lowe was living in an apartment above the Wearnes Brothers motor showroom next to MacDonald House, but she was not in Singapore when the bomb went off in March 1965.

She said Orchard Road then was nothing like it is today.

"Back then, Orchard Road was a two-way street with parking on both sides of the road," she said,

Instead of gleaming shopping malls and skyscrapers, shophouses lined the famous strip all the way from where Tangs is today, to the Istana.

"There were cinemas, embassies, boarding houses, antique shops. Where Ion Singapore is now, was a police station."

The area around MacDonald House was also very different then.

"Where Dhoby Ghaut MRT station is today, there was a Cycle and Carriage car showroom. Next to it was a Jewish cemetery surrounded by high walls. You couldn't see the cemetery from the footpath. But I could see it from the windows of my apartment opposite," recalled Ms Lowe.

"Next to it was Singapore's oldest Hindu temple. It was later demolished to make way for the MRT."

Ms Lowe, who started conducting tours in 1965 and became well known for her walking tours of heritage areas, moved with her family to Perth in 1985 but has continued to shuttle between her homes there and here.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.