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January 20, 2010

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Dr Sun Yat-sen museum sheds light on past

A walk down Sinan Road from the end of Huaihai Road leads you to the house at the corner of Sinan and Xiangshan roads where Dr Sun Yat-sen and his wife Soong Ching Ling lived from 1918 to 1924. Then the road was known as Rue Moliere, one of the city's most picturesque streets.

The house is on the list of national cultural heritage sites.

Dr Sun, revered as the founder of the Republic of China, was a key figure in the 1911 Revolution that toppled the country's last feudal emperor.

Soong, second of the three famous Soong sisters, was married to Dr Sun in 1915. Her younger sister, Soong Mei-ling, was married to Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the Kuomintang regime, in the 1940s. Soong Ching Ling was known for her patriotism and charitable spirit.

It was in this building that Dr Sun decided to cooperate with the Communist Party for the first time.

When Soong Ching Ling returned to Shanghai from Chongqing after World War II, she found her house on Xiangshan Road, where she'd lived with Dr Sun, abandoned and damaged.

In the spring of 1949, her brother-in-law, the former Kuomintang leader Chiang, directed that she be allowed to live in the white villa, shaped like a ship, at 1843 Huaihai Road M. She resided there until she moved to Beijing in 1963.

After the war, Madam Soong offered the villa as a memorial to her late, great husband. It is now open every day to give visitors an intimate glimpse into a remarkable period in China's history.

The two-story European-style villa was bought by some overseas Chinese as a gift for Dr Sun to support his revolution and he wrote several books there. Opening to the public in 1988, it is listed as an important historical site and placed under the state's protection.

Walking in the area just beyond the boundaries of Fuxing Park feels almost like walking through a backstreet of London. While Xiangshan Road leads to the always-chaotic Huaihai Road, the area is a picture of serenity.

Many heavyweight people in Chinese contemporary history once lived by the park, including Dr Sun, "Young Marshal" Zhang Xueliang and Zou Taofen, a famous journalist, political commentator and publisher.

The garden house, with a history of more than 100 years, was placed under national protection in 1961. Some precious photos are still kept in the building, including group photos of the Chinese Communist Party and Kuomintang.

A three-story building next to the residence is a memorial to Dr Sun. More than 300 precious relics are on display in the new 700-square-meter museum, including articles Dr Sun and Madam Soong used during their daily lives and pictures of their friends and colleagues.

Its first floor showcases historical objects and documents reflecting Dr Sun's life and revolutionary experiences. The second and third floors are offices.

Items on display in the residence include the officer's sword, military maps and writing tools once used by Dr Sun.

A 60-centimeter-high brass statue of Dr Sun, which was donated by a local collector who was not willing to be named, is the most precious of the articles.

The statue portrays Dr Sun sitting in a chair with a script lying open on his knees.

The statue was made in the 1930s by Paul Landowski, a French sculptor. It is the only replica of the white marble statue placed in the Dr Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum in Nanjing, capital city of Jiangsu Province.

Relics related to the 1911 Revolution which were donated by Shen Hansheng, a collector from Wuhan, Hubei Province, are also on display.

According to officials from the memorial, renovations are taken every 10 years in an effort to protect the historic building.

Former Residence of Dr Sun Yat-sen/The Museum of Dr Sun Yat-sen

Opening hours: 9am-4pm

Address: 7 Xiangshan Rd, near Sinan Rd

Admission: 20 yuan

Tel: 6437-2954

To get there: Metro Line 1 Huangpi Road N. Station), Buses No. 02, 17, 24, 36, 42, 96, 781, 786, 911, 920, 926


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