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March 13, 2010

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Protecting Old Town charms

FENGXIAN Old Town near Hangzhou Bay will be preserved, restored and cleaned up and many non-traditional buildings will be removed in a recently approved preservation plan.

Historical villages, bridges and streets will be preserved in 280-year-old Fengxian Old Town under a plan approved by the Shanghai Historical Monuments and Sites Protection Committee.

The Old Town was originally a salt works, then a fishing village, a coastal defense fort, a secret stronghold of the then-underground Communist Party of China. It evolved into an administrative and financial center of the district.

The Old Town is filled with relics and important architecture, including a moat, an ancient town wall built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Shuguang Middle School built in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and Wanfo (Ten Thousand Buddha) Hall, which is around 400 years old. The four cultural sites are protected.

Renovation of the ancestral shrine in Shuguang Middle School was recently completed, says headmaster Chu Wanqiang.

"It's part of the school's history. To protect it is to preserve the school's glorious past."

Renovation is underway on Wanfo Hall, one of the biggest Buddhist sites in the city. The hall was originally a fort defending against Japanese pirate attacks in the Ming Dynasty. The last renovation was in 1989.


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