In a stroke of great news for historical architecture enthusiasts and fans of Shanghai jazz-era fiction, it looks like Eileen Chang’s old middle/high school has been saved from becoming another set of skyscrapers!
Xinmin (Chinese) reported in late April that a grassroots group had started protesting the destruction of Chang’s grade school. The area, which was supposed to be a protected heritage site, had almost completely been wrecked by real estate developer Orient Overseas.
St. Mary’s School, where Eileen Chang had attended from around the age of 12 to 19, was originally seven building in all. Two were demolished in 2005 to make way for urban construction. By April, the only building that was more or less intact was the St. Mary’s old bell tower, which is recognized by the city as a protected cultural relic that can’t be moved or demolished. The four remaining buildings surrounding it, being just “heritage” sites – which legally can be moved, but not destroyed – were partially dismantled.
Now, under an order from the Changning District Planning Bureau, the developer will not only have to restore the four buildings, but also the school’s original promenade and replant a famous old gingko tree that had been removed. According to the China Morning Post, Tongji University’s historical building preservation department and several design experts will be consulted for help restoring the site.
With so much of Shanghai’s history and culture disappearing every day, we can’t help but feel a little elated when one part manages to stay.
Also on the web:
Restoration order for school buildings