Sat, Oct 17, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Renovated cluster of Miaoli houses bring tourists, jobs

FINANCIAL SUPPORT:The project was backed by a Ministry of Labor program that subsidizes community revitalization and job creation projects

Staff writer, with CNA

Many villages in Taiwan have lost their young population, leaving old houses vacant, but a township in Miaoli County is hoping to reverse that trend by renovating old dwellings and turning them into tourist attractions.

A renovated cluster of traditional southern Fujian-style courtyard houses in Toufen Township (頭份) is encouraging young people to stay in the area because of the jobs created by its emergence as a tourist draw.

The Lu-chu-nan house cluster was one of more than 7,000 projects to receive financial support under a Ministry of Labor job creation program that subsidizes community revitalization and job creation projects proposed by civic groups, a source at the ministry said yesterday. The about 50 redbrick courtyard houses dating back 300 years were not touched by developers, because the area was zoned by the government as industrial land in 1968.

Over the years, residents slowly moved out, because the houses were decaying and job prospects for the younger generation were anything but promising.

In 2007, local interests initiated an effort to revitalize the community, and with financial support from the Ministry of Labor, the then-Council of Cultural Affairs and the private sector, the houses were restored and turned into a museum chronicling rural life in the 1950s and 1960s.

In the cluster, people can learn to use traditional tools, such as stone mills and wood-fired ovens, to prepare different foods and try their hands at making pottery and weaving.

The Miaoli County Heritage Society of Cluster Culture said it cooperated with local universities and colleges on the revitalization project.

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