Sun, May 03, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Historic estate to be repurposed

ROUND THE HOUSES:National Changhua Senior High School library director Lu Hsin-chung plans to travel around the nation to raise the NT$500m needed to buy the estate

By Chang Tsung-chiu and Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

To salvage a historic estate in Changhua County that was put on sale following the death of a high-school student, who was a member of an unorthodox religious organization that had formerly occupied the complex, a librarian is planning a round-the-nation trip aimed at raising funds to procure the estate and repurpose it to a youth entrepreneurship park.

A librarian is planning a round-the-nation trip aimed at raising funds to procure the estate and repurpose it to a youth entrepreneurship park.

Built in Changhua’s Hemei Township (和美) in 1929, the Mo Estate was one of the earliest displays of Baroque architecture to be constructed during the Japanese colonial era and was home to dissident writer Chen Hsu-ku (陳虛谷), National Changhua Senior High School library director Lu Hsin-chung (呂興忠) said.

Lu said he sought refuge at the estate from the devastating floods caused by Typhoon Ellen in 1959, and he regretted that Chen’s descendents had to sell the property.

The estate covers about 5,000 ping (16,529m2) of land, and its main building is a two-story construction boasting Baroque architecture typical of the era, while works by ancient Chinese poet Tao Yuanming (陶淵明) are inscribed on the building’s facade by master calligrapher Tsai Shou-shih (蔡壽石).

The estate is both an architectural and literary legacy, because Chen, along with poet and doctor Loa Ho (賴和), was one of the earliest modern Taiwanese writers and a major voice of the Taiwanese Cultural Association — an important organization that promoted democratization under the Japanese regime, Lu said.

The estate’s reputation was damaged following the conviction of Chen’s granddaughter and head of the religious group Sun Moon Bright Light Group (日月明功), Chen Chiao-ming (陳巧明), for intentionally injuring and causing the death of high-school student Chan Chun-yu (詹淳寓), Lu said.

Lu said that he vowed to preserve the estate following a school trip to Japan, where he met Hokkaido Museum of Literature director Tadataka Kamiya, who shared with Lu his experience of conserving the former residence of author Takeo Arishima, which is now a memorial museum of the author.

The owner of the estate offered to sell it to Lu for NT$500 million (US$16.26 million) and gave him one year to raise the money, he said.

Lu called for his students to join his fundraising campaign that is set to travel around the nation looking for sponsors to set up a trust fund for the estate, he said.

Lu said that a Chinese business had expressed an interest in his project, and offered to keep the estate and repurpose it to a youth entrepreneurship park.

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