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Former home of historic charity may be spared

(Shanghai Daily)

08:20, April 19, 2013

A large Chinese character chai, meaning "demolish," is posted near the century-old former home of a historic charity downtown.
(Shanghai DailyWang Rongjiang)

The former home of one of the city's earliest charities may be saved after residents objected to a plan to demolish the building, which is about 100 years old, for urban renewal, officials said yesterday.

The Shikumen style, or stone-gated residential building in Zhabei District was home to the Chenghua Public Charity between 1919 and 1951, said an official with the Cultural Heritage Committee of the district.

The charity located at Lane 129 Zhejiang Road N. dispensed free medications, clothes, rice and money to poor residents, and also helped care for abandoned babies and destitute pregnant women, historical records show. The charity, funded mainly by memberships, was well-regarded in the city.

"Local historic experts are still researching the value of the historic building, and the government will not demolish it before the results come out," the official in charge of the research said yesterday. The building is up for consideration as a city-level protected historic building, he added.

The block where the building stands was to be demolished as part of a renewal plan dating to 2003, but some residents complained about the plan to the district cultural heritage authority.

The two-story, stone structure stands at the end of the 50-meter-long lane.

There are discarded clothes and furniture in the courtyard. Only three families still live there. The building's interior has been modified as residents added rooms and illegal attic space.

Some delicate sculptures can still be seen on the eaves.

"The building has long lacked preservation, because we were never told it was a historic structure," said a 62-year-old resident surnamed Yan who has lived in the building for 48 years.

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