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August 23, 2014

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Old Hongkou house saved from bulldozers

AN aging residential property in Hongkou District that once served as a meeting place for Dr Sun Yat-sen and other well-known public figures in the 1910s has been saved from demolition.

Yi Hong Garden, a two-story house located at 453-457 Wujin Road, was once home to Zhao Qifeng, a Cantonese businessman who was close to Dr Sun.

Despite being slated for demolition, the building might now be saved after a photo of it was uploaded to on August 3. The poster expressed an interest in the property and asked for help, Oriental Morning Post reported.

Local architecture buffs set about investigating, with one of them discovering the building’s name, while someone else findign an old photo of the property, which showed it to have impressive arched windows, a pool and pavilions, the report said.

According to Lu Longxing, 84, who currently lives in the house, the pool and pavilions had been demolished by the time his family moved in about 1948.

At that time, part of the building was occupied by Asia Pacific Printing Co, for which Lu’s father worked as a teller.

These days, the second floor of the building is home to 16 families living in small units, but in the late 1940s it was a banquet hall, Lu said.

His family relocated to Beijing in the late 1950s, but Lu returned to the property in the early 1980s, by which time it had taken on its current form. Like his fellow tenants, the octogenarian recently signed an agreement to move out of the property.

The report did not say who owns the building, but said it is mentioned in books about Shanghai and Dr Sun.

Wujin Road used to be called Bazi Road, and Yi Hong Garden was on 111 Bazi Road, it said.

In another book about gardens in Shanghai, Yi Hong Garden is said to have been built in the latter part of the reign of Emperor Guangxu of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and belonged to a man named Zhao, the report said.

In other records, it is described as a rendezvous of Cantonese businessmen and politicians.

In 1911 and 1912, Dr Sun visited the garden several times to meet his supporters, it said.

Despite being slated for demolition, the Hongkou government said it will preserve the building until it can be granted an elite historical building title.


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