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What we Lost 2011 – Shanghai’s Architectural Losses – Addendum on the Old Town

Posted: March 6th, 2012 | No Comments »

Apologies I realise that I left out a couple of notable architectural in the old town (Nantao) when compiling my annual What We Lost 2011 list.

And I am indebted to Katya Knyazeva who is an active chronicler of Shanghai, photographer and tour guide leader (details of all her activities/services here). Katya knows far more about Shanghai’s old town than I do. Anyway, she noted these two especially serious losses in the last year:

1. Zhao Mansion; 137 Baiyang Yi Nong. A courtyard residence built in 1917, which had an unusual octagonal terrace on top. Some sources say the original owner was a Cantonese industrialist Deng who had seven concubines and scores of children. After 1949 they all fled Shanghai. A slightly more credible story says the house belonged to a Mr. Zhao who had his furniture workshop in the house. This structure was demolished in March 2011.

Architecturally almost unique…now gone to dust

2. Zhening Huiguan (Zhejiang and Ningbo Merchants Guildhall); 31 Hehuachi Nong. Built in 1859 by the Zhejiang Maritime Bureau (to compete with Siming Gongsuo). According to the descriptions, the guildhall had a large lotus pond flanked by huge carved pillars; the theatre inside was said to be able to house 2,000 spectators. The guild strengthened during the Taiping decade when it was the routing center for all regional grain transportation, but diminished in the 1870’s. In an attempt to turn the declining fortunes the guild sponsored a renovation in 1881. Throughout the 20th century, the hall served as a warehouse, residences and workshops; but had suffered from fire. This autumn, the carcass was finally pulled down. This leaves Shanghai with only one original guildhall left, Shangchuan Huiguan.

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