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Migration of ancient houses

By Feng Shu (Global Times)

09:19, September 27, 2012

The skywell of Yin Yu Tang, a Qing Dynasty house at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, US. The house was moved from China's Anhui Province in 1997. (GT/Courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum)

Wrapped in a modern house with its façade decorated with huge glass windows, a typical ancient house with 220 years of history has found a new lease of life in downtown Beijing, more than 1,000 kilometers away from its origins in Jiangxi Province, adjacent to Anhui Province.

Mixing a modern flavor with traditional Huizhou architecture dating back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the building has become a very popular restaurant called Le Quai.

"Look at these beautiful wood carvings on the beams, and the very compact layout of the house, I could hardly find such a masterpiece again. The more I see it, the more affection I have for it," said 44-year-old Wang Zhengqing, an Anhui-native antiquary living in Beijing, who found the deserted house in a remote village.

As a veteran carpenter, Wang dismantled the house and transported its lumber and bricks to Beijing by truck. It then took Wang and more than 10 workers more than a year to restore the house, making it the first Huizhou-style architecture in the capital.

Almost eight years since the restaurant opened, Wang visits the restaurant every two or three months to make sure the house stays in good shape. Infused with modern technology, the former entrance foyer of the house has turned into a lobby for guests, while each former bedroom now serves as a separate private dining area.

Wang originally intended to move the house to Beijing for his personal use until the owner of the restaurant made him a good offer and promised a careful preservation of the house.

"It's the best way to leverage both its commercial and cultural value, when so many people can come to appreciate its unique beauty," Wang added, with a look of satisfaction on his face.

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