Working to save tradition

Songjiang District has finished restoring a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) residential building featuring typical Shanghai-style architecture after a two-month renovation.

Ti Gong

Baosutang Hall’s exterior

SONGJIANG District has finished restoring a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) residential building featuring typical Shanghai-style architecture after a two-month renovation.

It’s the second renovation on Baosutang Hall after major works in 2000, an official with Songjiang Museum said. The first renovation was completed in 2002.

“Many wooden parts have cracked and even rotted since no preservation has been carried out since then,” the official said.

That changed in June, when the district government announced a restoration project to fix broken parts and to restore the hall to its original appearance.

Baosutang Hall is in Cangcheng Old City, a historic rice storage depot, on Zhongshan Road W. The hall is the only remaining part of a large residential complex once owned by former county director Xu Jiade of Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) .

So locals also call Baosutang Hall Xujia Hall — “Xu family’s hall” in Chinese.

The hall was the building’s principal sitting room and covers 420 square meters and is 30 meters wide. Facing south, it has five well-preserved rooms, according to the Songjiang Museum.

The hall features a complicated wooden structure and has the typical “grass bracket ceiling” of residential buildings in southern China and numerous exquisite dougong — the quintessential Chinese interlocking wooden brackets that support the roof. The wooden pillars have stone foundations with elegant carvings.

The hall was listed as a district-level protected building in 1985.

The building is a teaching site for nearby Yongfeng Kindergarten, displaying ancient carving. Children regularly visit the historic building to learn about its architecture.

Craftsmen for the renovation work applied traditional painting skills with environmental-friendly paints and materials to ensure the safety of young visitors.

Songjiang Museum plans to cooperate with Yongfeng Kindergarten on the renewal of exhibits in the Baosutang Hall to make them more attractive for visitors.

The hall is one of the historic structures on Cangcheng Street, the central business street. The hall’s neighboring heritage sites include Yi Garden, also built during the Ming Dynasty and Dacang Bridge, which is 385 years old.

The old city also contains nine heritage sites under district-level protection and 81 registered cultural sites, including Zuibai Pond Park, Du Mansion and Songfang Tower, a mosque built during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).

Cangcheng was renowned as a rice storage depot and river transport center. The town’s web of rivers and canals connect with the sea. Mansions, temples and bridges were built along the waterways during the Ming Dynasty.

The district government has invested 3 billion yuan (US$450 million) for the renovation and preservation of historic venues since 2008. About 3,000 families are being relocated.



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