True love leads to historic site worth visiting

Han San Fang, residence of the third brother of the Han family, is another of Songjiang's historic sites worth a visit.
Yang Yang / SHINE

The building of Han San Fang, once residence of the third brother of the Han family, is now a part of Songjiang District Central Hospital.

Yang Yang / SHINE

A stone commemorating the ancient Han San Fang building

Yang Yang / SHINE

The pavilion, which mimics the shape of an ancient soldier’s helmet and now stands on top of the roof, was added in 1929.

Han San Fang, residence of the third brother of the Han family, is another of Songjiang’s historic sites worth a visit.

Located near Xiuye Bridge on Zhongshan Road M., Han San Fang was the former residence of Han Zigu (1898-1930), a local scholar.

Associated with the construction of the building are two stories related to Han’s courtship of a landlord’s daughter.

One is about how Han was so despised by the landlord, surnamed Qian, that he was determined to build a house from which he could look over Qian’s home on the east side of town and his sweetheart.

The other version tells of how the daughter was so fond of her family’s garden that she said the man she would marry would have to have a house from which she could see the garden.

Since most houses in Songjiang were two-story buildings at that time, her future husband’s home should eclipse them all and be a three-story building. To fulfil the wish of his wife-to-be, Han asked architects from downtown Shanghai to build the house.

A witness to Han’s tortuous courtship, Han San Fang was first established in 1925. The pavilion, which mimicked the shape of an ancient soldier’s helmet and now stands on top of the roof, was added in 1929.

The three-story building looks like a relic from the Renaissance period that embodied a baroque style. Its facade is convex, with a flat south wing and a north wing attached with a convex round porch.

On each floor of the south wing there are six round pillars. The pillars, in the typical Corinthian style of ancient Greece, were carved with vertical grooves, with wreath-like reliefs surrounding the tops.

The window shades of the building were decorated with triangle pediments which could be traced back to roof patterns on the Parthenon of Athens. Pediments were a Baroque-style decoration first appearing during the Renaissance era.

The pillars at the semicircle porch on the north wing are also Corinthian, whereas the dome-like pavilion on the roof looks like a Rococo-style spiritual courtyard from the 1730s.

On the south of the main building there is a traditional hall and towering old trees stand between it and the building. On the north there is a back garden.

An armored concrete structure, Han San Fang represents a flexible Baroque architecture with its asymmetry. It also marks Songjiang folk dwellings’ Westernization course.

Besides a brick-and-mortar property, the Han family also had an archive of treasured books. The archive went through four generations of more than 80 years. However, the collection was dispersed during a succession of wars despite the Han family’s efforts to preserve them.

The wife Han had courted died at a young age. Han, lonely and depressed, died at 33 soon after.

Han San Fang was later adapted into an office building for Songjiang Nursing School.

In 1949 it became the third inspector’s administrative office of Jiangsu Province (Songjiang District was part of neighboring Jiangsu Province in 1958).

Today, the building belongs to Songjiang District Central Hospital and used by its administrative staff.

“Autumn, when the gingko tree at the back garden turns golden and its leaves waltz down, is the best season to visit Han San Fang,” said Yang Haiying, head of the publicity department of Songjiang District Central Hospital.


Han Sang Fang

Address: 746 Zhongshan Rd M.


How to get there:

Gate 3, Zuibai Pond Park Station, Metro Line 9; then take Songjing No.6 or No.9 Bus to Songjiang District Central Hospital Station

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