Fa­mous old homes in Shang­hai

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By ZHOU WENTING in Shang­hai


Shang­hai has about 4,000 Western-style town­houses, of which more than 100 are clas­si­fied as his­tor­i­cal her­itage sites. Do­mes­tic mer­chants and for­eign­ers had built most of th­ese vil­las be­tween the 1920s and 40s, and th­ese homes are usu­ally adorned with ex­quis­ite fur­nish­ings that tell the tales of old Shang­hai.

But apart from their charm­ing fa­cades and fur­ni­ture, many of them have be­come land­marks as they have been home to no­table per­son­al­i­ties through­out his­tory. Here are some of the most fa­mous peo­ple who have lived in th­ese iconic res­i­dences. and Soong once resided.

Chi­ang led the Kuom­intang for five decades and was head of state of the Chi­nese Na­tion­al­ist govern­ment be­tween 1928 and 1949. Soong, who grad­u­ated from Welles­ley Col­lege in the United States, was a debu­tante in Shang­hai. The two met at a party held by Soong’s brother Soong Tse-ven. Chi­ang and Soong tied the knot in Shang­hai in 1927 and more than 1,300 celebri­ties and dis­tin­guished fig­ures at­tended the ex­trav­a­gant wed­ding cer­e­mony.

The villa, which has brown-brick walls, be­came part of the Middle School at­tached to the Shang­hai Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic in 1958 and is cur­rently used as a school of­fice build­ing. An upright or grand pi­ano is placed in each room and the big room on the first floor is used as a venue for stu­dents’ per­for­mances and par­ties.

“All my peers know about the his­tory of the build­ing. We feel kind of spe­cial play­ing the pi­ano in such a place,” says Luo Lin­jie, a stu­dent of the school.

The south-fac­ing room on the se­cond floor that comes with a large ter­race used to be Chi­ang and Soong’s bed­room. It is cur­rently be­ing used as an ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fice. Ad­dress: 9 Dong­ping Road this three-story house for his fourth con­cu­bine Yao Yu­lan, a Pek­ing Opera ac­tress from Bei­jing. Du had met Yao when she per­formed at a Pek­ing Opera show in 1928. The cou­ple were mar­ried soon af­ter.

Born in 1888, Du was just an ap­pren­tice in a fruit mar­ket at age 14 be­fore he be­friended gang­sters and en­tered the triad scene. He quickly climbed the lad­der thanks to his wits and was later ap­pointed the man­ager of the largest casino in Shang­hai. Du, who made his for­tune by deal­ing drugs, owned a bank and even had close ties to govern­ment of­fi­cials as well as pow­er­ful as­so­ciates from the un­der­world.

His daugh­ter, Du Meiru, who had lived in the house dur­ing her child­hood, once said in a TV show in 2013 that the cou­ple em­ployed 17 ser­vants.

To­day, the villa is a pop­u­lar venue for wed­ding re­cep­tions be­cause of its beau­ti­ful gar­den which can be seen through the floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows in the lobby.

“New­ly­weds like to have a wed­ding cer­e­mony on the lawn in the af­ter­noon be­fore the re­cep­tion,” said the man­ager of the restau­rant. Ad­dress: 27 Shaox­ing Road

Changde House, the Ital­ian-style build­ing lo­cated near Jing’an Tem­ple, is well-known for be­ing the for­mer res­i­dence of Eileen Chang, a Chi­nese writer who re­ceived crit­i­cal ac­claim for her ro­man­tic nov­els. Chang moved into the build­ing in 1939 and lived in Room 65, lo­cated on the sixth floor.

She went to Hong Kong to study in late 1939, re­turn­ing to Changde House in 1942. Be­tween then and 1947, Chang wrote her most fa­mous nov­els, in­clud­ing Lust, Cau­tion, Love in a Fallen City and Red Rose, White Rose, in that apart­ment.

This is also the place where Chang first met her first hus­band, Hu Lancheng, a col­lab­o­ra­tor with the Ja­panese dur­ing World War II. Chang tied the knot with the then 38-yearold Hu in 1944. Their mar­riage ended af­ter three years be­cause of Hu’s in­volve­ment with other women.

The build­ing, which is also known as Ed­ding­ton House, was built in 1936 by an Ital­ian baron. Changde House is still a res­i­den­tial build­ing and the wooden mail­boxes be­side the en­trance have re­mained un­touched over the years. Ad­dress: 195 Changde Road

Eileen Chang is one of China's most fa­mous au­thors.

Du Yuesh­eng was a pow­er­ful druglord.

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