Mon, Sep 24, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Changhua former railway clinic restored at NT$50m

MODERNIST MARVEL:The building, which evolved from a restaurant into a hospital and was built in the 1930s to resemble a cruise liner, is to reincarnate as a tourist stop

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Sunlight streams through the windows of the renovated former Railway Hospital in Changhua City on Saturday.

Photo: Chang Tsung-ciu, Taipei Times

Changhua City’s former Railway Hospital could become a tourist attraction after the government spent NT$50 million (US$1.63 million) restoring the 80-year-old building, the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) said over the weekend.

Funding for the restoration was furnished by the Ministry of Culture, Changhua Cultural Affairs Bureau and the TRA, the railway operator said.

The Japanese colonial era building used to house a restaurant called Kaobinge (高賓閣), established in 1937, it said.

After the Second Sino-Japanese War ended in 1945, the railways acquired the building and turned it into the Railway Hospital, it said, adding that it closed the hospital in 1984 after years of financial losses.

The railways then leased the property to a wedding studio and a cafe, it said.

In 2008, the TRA planned to tear down the building and turn the property into a parking lot, but civic groups launched an initiative to preserve it and Changhwa County in 2011 designated it a historic site.

The restoration of the building began in 2016 and is almost complete, the TRA said, adding that it would announce a winning bidder to manage the building by the end of next month.

The railways and winning contractor are to sign a contract by mid-November, it said.

“We invite hoteliers, restaurateurs, and cultural and creative industry operators to establish their businesses in the building,” the TRA said. “We also hope the restoration of a historic site will help increase traffic and help boost local business.”

Kaobinge used to be a gathering place for artists and intellectuals in the colonial era, it said.

Lai He (賴和) — known as the father of New Taiwanese Literature — and Taiwan’s first professor of medicine, Tu Tsung-ming (杜聰明), were among the guests who frequented the restaurant, the TRA said.

The building’s asymmetric design was inspired by large cruise ships, making it one of the most modern buildings of the era, the TRA said, adding that it is one of only a few modernist buildings left in Taiwan.

The former hospital is only a five-minute walk from Changhua Railway Station, making it suitable as a tourist attraction, the TRA said.

Old restaurants in the vicinity sell meatballs, noodles and shaved ice with rice gluten balls, it said.

The Changhua City Office plans to open a tourist information center in the building, it added.

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