During its golden days, Silay City was the center of commerce, arts and culture in Negros. The beginning of industrialization of Silay City coincided with the growth of sugar cane plantations in the island.
Yves Leopold Germain Gaston, a French in origin, spurred this sunshine industry in Silay which even spilled over to other towns and cities all over the island.
His eldest son, Victor Fernandez Gaston, built in 1897 what is now Balay Negrense, arguably the single most important landmark in the city.
At the height of trade and commerce, the barons would bring in performers and artists not only from Manila but also from Europe to make the city even livelier.