Some of China's most famous 20th century identities lived in Shanghai and many of their former residences still stand. Because of its relatively young age, Shanghai does not have the ancient historical sites similar to those found in Beijing or Xi'an. But, in its favor, the city attracted some of the most influential and important people in both politics and culture in a critical phase of Chinese history. Some of the Shanghai residences of these notable figures have been preserved and some are open to the public. They offer a fascinating insight into the lives of the people who helped shape modern China. One of them is the former residence of Soong Chingling in Shanghai which is still maintained as a shrine to her memory. I had the chance to visit the place.
Soong Chingling was born in Shanghai in January, 1893. She followed the great revolutionary forerunner Mr Sun Yatsen and contributed her lifetime to the Chinese people, working for democracy and the socialist enterprise, promoting awareness of world peace and the advancement of technology. She passed away in 1981 in Beijing at the age of 90 years old. I actually found it quite appropriate that one is asked at the entrance to cover one’s shoes with plastic bags. This way, no dirt is brought in from outside to spoil the pristine carpets. Somehow this requirement enhanced the sense of respect for the building that once housed a woman who devoted herself to her people.
始终认为，一件物什跟主人相处久了，便浸染了主人的气息。正如这栋德式红顶白墙的船形小楼，即使身处于车来人往的淮海路 上，依然温婉沉静，脱尘而出。淮海中路 1843 号的法式花园洋房自 1948 年开始就一直是宋庆龄在上海的寓所，这里是一幢法式花园洋房，屋前是一大片草坪，四周都是终年苍翠的樟树。
The mansion was built in 1920 and became Soong Chingling's house in Shanghai in 1948. The house was a milk-white color, boat shaped, two stories and in a western-style. Surrounded by camphor trees, it presents an atmosphere of elegance and peace.
The rooms were of modest proportions. Everything was simple and low-key. Perhaps the house’s greatest luxury was its splendid lawn, a tranquil backyard. This compound was a comforting urban sanctuary.
Watching as a breeze rippled through the leaves of the trees that lined the fence, I found myself thinking: What feverish discussions had taken place in this house? What negotiations were carried out? I supposed it is quite elitist to think that the three Soong sisters had influenced the course of Chinese history so much. Such an inflection would practically ignore the work of millions of others who toiled and sacrificed to build the China that we know today. Yet, one cannot deny the fact that the Soong Sisters and their relations were certainly key players in the drama that saw the birth of the new China.
A freelance Singapore-based travel photographer / photojournalist. I seek the extraordinary, but finds beauty in the everyday. Life is interesting, capture it.
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