Famous old homes 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.