Following rumors of its repair in recent years, the run-down mansion at No.81 of Chaonei Dajie in Beijing that’s gained notoriety among locals and netizens for being haunted is expected to undergo renovation, according to the Beijing Morning Post, citing a guard stationed at the residence.
The dilapidated mansion amid Soviet-style apartment blocks came under government control in 1949 and the rights were handed off to the Beijing Catholic Diocese in the late 1990s, according to the New York Times. Since then, the enclave has sat neglected apart from the occasional “youths” who wander in at night, as evident by the graffiti-strewn walls and cigarette butts scattered around the floor.
Some have speculated that potential tenants have shunned the home out of superstition, as its murky history prior to the 50s has welcomed a number of urban legends to fill in the gaps of its past, such as this one cited by the Times:
It was 1949, and the Communists had just defeated the Nationalists in the civil war. Legend has it that during the losing army’s rushed retreat to Taiwan, a high-ranking Kuomintang official living in Beijing abandoned his wife, leaving her to fend for herself as the Communists marched into the city. Devastated, the wife (some say she was his concubine) hanged herself from the rafters of their three-story French Baroque-style home.
The spirit of the spurned woman, local residents say, has haunted the house ever since.
Shi Hongxi, secretary general of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association in Beijing, called the story “complete nonsense” and insists that the mansion was built in 1910 as a language training center for foreign ministries. Others historians say that the buildings at Chaonei No. 81 were built as a residence for the French manager of the company that built the railway connecting Beijing to Hankou.
The buildings clustered in the property are on a historic preservation list, so they can’t be torn down, only renovated. At the end of 2013, church officials estimated that repairs would cost around 1.5 million USD.
Meng Qi, who’s in charge of guarding the mansion, told the Beijing Morning Post that an application to renovate the mansion along with another old building in the yard has been submitted, although it’s worth pointing out that a similar report had surfaced in September last year.