Sunday, September 23, 2012

Shanghai Story Walk III (9/23/2012)

Saturday, September 22, 2012
Today was a rainy day, so no walks. Instead we went to the Shanghai Oriental Art Center in Pudong, to see the Gallery of Antique Music Boxes. It was so much more, an unusual collection of turn-of-the-century automata. No photos were allowed in the gallery, but there were display cabinets along the stairs up to the gallery:
These displays showed tinplate mechanical toys.
A guide accompanies you for the first part of the tour, demonstrating the cylinder and disk music boxes, then singing birds and a street organ. You see the oldest music box in the world, made in 1796 by Antoine Favre in Switzerland, in a tiny gold seal/stamp. There is a video of a tea-serving doll. You see the results of the drawing automaton, such as a detailed profile of one of the King Louis XV. There is a small stage to see the performance of a few large automata, which in their actions tell a short story. You are then allowed to look through the rest of the exhibit on your own.
To find the gallery, we ended up walking around the entire Oriental Art Center. You need to make sure you are not there earlier than 10:30 am! Then it is easy to go in the main entrance, up a flight of stairs and to the left you will see a doorway to more stairs. Go to the 4th floor and enter the gallery. There is a 50 RMB admission fee. A couple flights back down, there is a Reuge Music Company shop, where there are more interesting music boxes to see, some very contemporary.
Our next stop was the Beer Fest at Kerry Parkside.
It seems that every time there is a beer fest, it is raining.

Sunday, September 23, 2012
The Shanghai Metro has vending machines for Metro souvenirs:
Funny Metro!
Speaking of funny, an ad for an amusement park with inflated heads:

Now for Shanghai Story Walk III ("Money and Trouble") from the book Shanghai Story Walks by Yvette Ho Madany. This walk takes place in the former International Settlement, where the British and American settlements merged in 1863. We did the walk in reverse.
Starting at Nanjing Xi Road, we walked north on Shaanxi Bei Road. At No. 369 Shaanxi Bei Road is the Song Mansion:
Built in 1908, the villa was purchased in 1918 by the widow of Charlie Song. She moved here with the youngest of her three daughters, Song Meiling. Song Meiling was married in this house to Chiang Kai-shek in 1927. Meiling's oldest sister, Song Ailing, was married to the wealthy banker H. H. Kung who held various posts in Chiang Kai-shek's government. Kung is known in Shanghai for building the Bank of China headquarters on the Bund. Meiling's middle sister, Song Qingling, was married to Sun Yat-sen. The three sisters were brought up Christian, and were educated in the United States.
The villa is now the clubhouse of the Song Qingling Foundation for the welfare of women and children.
No. 375 Shaanxi Bei Road, the Shanghai Grace Church plaque:
In this area, the plaques were almost works of art.
Grace Church was built in 1942 by an American Baptist missionary, Dr. R. T. Bryan. It is now a non-denominational Protestant church, and seems to have a big red cross that can be illuminated:
Not included in the walk, but across the street from the church, is the former residence of Tung Chao Yung:
We have seen the C. Y. Tung Maritime Museum in Jiaotong University. He bought this house in 1940:
At No. 430 Shaanxi Bei Road, a garden-style villa was built in 1913, and was a residence for Jews. These buildings are all occupied and stand behind locked gates!
A peek here shows a trompe l'oeil mural:
The townhouses at Nos. 440, 446, 454, and 462 had double sets of stairways to the entrance, similar to Brooklyn brownstones:
We stopped in at 455 Shaanxi Bei  Road to have breakfast at Egghead Bagels. They have an unusual mural:
Super Bagel?
No. 457 Shaanxi Bei Road plaque:
The Mansion, built in 1919 and designed by the Hungarian architect László Hudec:
It was home to Sir Robert Ho-Tong, a businessman from Hong Kong. He worked for the British-owned trading company Jardine Matheson and married the daughter of the director. He made money in real estate and commodities trading. He supported Sun Yat-sen, and later Chiang Kai-shek. Ho-Tung was the first Chinese (albeit with a European father) allowed to live in the exclusive enclave of Victoria Park in Hong Kong. There is a further story of the success of his descendants.
Today the villa houses the Shanghai Lexicographical Publishing House.
In the courtyard, two girls were piecing together plastic vines:
And a man was "planting" the vines:
 Again not on the walk, No. 499 Shaanxi Bei Road, Datong Lane:
and No. 515 Shaanxi Bei Road, Nanyang Apartments built in 1933:
Across the street is No. 500 Shaanxi Bei Road, the Ohel Rachel Synagogue:
A Greek Revival-style temple building built in 1921, commissioned by the Sephardic Jew, Jacob Elias Sassoon, as a memorial to his wife, Rachel:
This area was an active Jewish community, and the synagogue once held thirty 19th-century Torahs. The altar faces Jerusalem. During WWII, the Japanese used the building as a stable. The synagogue member who was holding on to the Torahs had them sent to Israel in 1952. We are actually looking at the rear of the building.
At No. 549 Shaanxi Bei Road, a garden-style villa built in 1924 was said to have granitic plaster on the walls and dentil moulding. All we could see were vines:
Kent at the massive iron gates:
Next on the walk, a left turn and No. 1321 Xinzha Road:
Through a fence, we could only see a bunch of trees (many of them magnolias) in the garden of the former residence of Liu Huizhi. He was a bank president who feared foreigners buying up Chinese land, yet he sold many antiques to the Prince of Sweden. He kept his collection of early Chinese writings, weapons, and musical instruments in a pagoda in the garden. He refused to cooperate during the Japanese occupation and escaped to Hong Kong. Many of the items in his collection have been donated to the Shanghai Museum and the Beijing Palace Museum.
We turned left on Xikang Road, and left again at Beijing Xi Road, looking for Lane 1222. It is actually Lane 1220 and the Avondale House is at No. 2:
The Spanish-style villa was built in 1930 and priests from the Augustinian Procuration lived here. Now it is a "72-lodgers" house for the lower-middle class.
Across the lane next to No.1, someone was protecting his Lincoln Town Car:
Back on Beijing Xi Road, we returned to the corner of Xikang Road, and continued westward. The sidewalk plantings included huge terra cotta pots with flowers:
No. 1320 Beijing Xi Road is the Henry Lester Institute of Medical Education and Research:
Built in 1932 on the estate left by the British architect Henry Lester when he died in 1926. He lived in Shanghai for over 50 years and his company was involved in the design of several buildings on the Bund.
Across the street at No. 1301 is the former residence of Bei Zuyi:
We are actually looking at the rear of the building where the servants quarters were located:
The patterns around the doorway are stylized characters meaning "long life:"
The rectangular windows are protected by wavy bars:
The round windows are made to look like ancient Chinese coins:
Built in 1934, this was a private residence of Bei Zuyi, who was a director of the Bank of China. The Bei family owned a garden in Suzhou, the Lion Grove Garden that is now a World Heritage Site. Bei Zuyi is also the father of the American-Chinese architect Ieoh Ming Pei (I. M. Pei).
I am serious when I say I am the only person in Shanghai who does not have a mobile phone. I always say even the recyclers have mobile phones:
We turned left at Tongren Road to see No. 333, the former residence of Wu Tongwen:
In 1932 when the Japanese invasion was imminent, Wu realized that with war coming, he should stock up on green paint for military use. Because the color green brought him wealth, he had the house covered in green tiles. He was given 3.33 mu of land by his father-in-law, he bought the house number 333, and had the house built in 333 days. It was designed by László Hudec and completed in 1937.
The house was the first in Shanghai to have an elevator, and it also had air conditioning and heated floors. Wu believed the round shape was good feng shui, but in 1966 during the Cultural Revolution, he and his wife committed suicide here. The house was purchased in 1999 by someone from Taiwan and it once housed a restaurant. Today it looked abandoned.
Across the street at Nos. 314, 320 and 330 Tongren Road are apartment buildings built in 1932 and also designed by László Hudec:
The balconies had unique concrete balusters:
No. 257 Tongren Road, the former residence of Shi Liancai:
Built in 1922 in French Colonial-style, this villa is now the Shanghai Municipal Foreign Affairs Office.
Shi Liangcai was a journalist who considered the Qing Dynasty to be corrupt. He purchased a newspaper in 1912 so he could express his views. The newspaper published articles by the leftist writers such as Lu Xun and Mao Dun. This angered the Kuomintang Party and they assassinated Shi. Shi's widow auctioned off the villa and other holdings and donated the money to the fight against the Japanese (not a KMT policy!).
Some architectural details:
We turned left at the corner of Nanjing Xi Road to No. 1418:
We were waved away from taking pictures at the gate, so were not able to really see the two mansions that now house government offices. Built in 1926, the mansions belonged to two brothers, Guo Le and Guo Shun, Cantonese Chinese from Australia. They had started with vegetable shops and then had a banana plantation. They established the Wing On department store in Hong Kong in 1907, and opened a Wing On in Shanghai in 1918. There is an unusual story on how they chose the location for the Shanghai store.
The book also tells about what happens with some of the Guo descendants, including the struggles of Daisy Guo during the Cultural Revolution.
Daisy attended the McTyeire School for Girls at 155 Jiangsu Lu. There is another story of the ties between the McTyeire School and the Song family.
A bit farther east on Nanjing Xi Road, in front of the Portman Ritz-Carlton at Shanghai Centre:
you can look across the street at the rear of the Shanghai Exhibition Center
built in 1955 by the Soviet Union (this is the front):
The real story here is about the location which was once the site of the estate of Silas Aaron Hardoon, a British Jew born in Baghdad. His father moved the family to India in 1856 where they relied on the patronage of the Jewish businessman David Sassoon. Hardoon came to Shanghai in 1874 and starting as a watchman, worked his way up in the Sassoon company. One of the main business interests was opium.
Hardoon used his savings to buy real estate, where he took advantage of circumstances to increase his holdings. He owned 40% of the property along Nanjing Road, and used his own money to pave a road.
In 1846 Hardoon married Luo Jialing, who became known as Lisa Roos. She was a devout Buddhist and had a famous monk design a garden at the location of the Exhibition Center. The most opulent estate in Shanghai was completed in 1910, supposedly inspired by the villa and garden from one of China's classical novels, Dream of the Red Chamber. Not only did they host famous artists and politicians, they hosted charity galas, such as for flood victims. They donated money to build Cai Yuanpei's school,as well as a other schools. They had no biological children, but adopted two dozen kids, both Chinese and Caucasian.
Hardoon died in 1931 and his wife died in 1941. The children began disputing the inheritance and the estate became neglected. The Japanese camped here in the 1940s and by 1945 only a few rooms remained, the rest having burned due to faulty wiring. By 1949 all the children had left the mainland, and the government took over the Hardoon properties.
We continued with Shanghai Story Walk IV.

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