A 70-year-old Japanese-style house made entirely of wood and built without a single nail — currently the offices of Dawan Borough (大灣) Warden Wang San-hung (王三紘) in Greater Tainan’s Syuejia District (學甲) — is still enjoying celebrity status with its celebrated historic exterior continuing to attract armies of history-minded visitors.
Unlike other borough offices that are located either within a community center, at a local temple or at the residence of the borough chief, Wang’s offices occupy about 20 ping (71.7m2), which includes a living room and three additional rooms. Wang inherited the building from his father.
According to Wang, who is already in his 70s, his father, Wang Hui-huang (王輝煌), bought the house from a Japanese man who was about to be repatriated in 1945 after Japan’s surrender in World War II.
Shortly after the transaction, the ligneous building, which served as a dormitory for the Department of Irrigation and Engineering, was moved to its current location and then became home to the Wang family, Wang San-hung said, adding that he has developed a close emotional bond with the aged structure.
The ceiling of the house is a rare example of a construction method which utilizes square, wooden plates and the 70-year-old said he has endeavored to preserve the original form by lovingly replacing missing tiles with plates of a similar nature while also renovating the walls over the decades.
Four generations of the Wang family — from Wang San-hun’s great-grandfather, onward — took up positions working in the sugar cane cultivation industry at the Hsiao Lung Sugar Factory which was the predecessor of the city’s Jiali Sugary Refinery Plant.
In addition, all four of them served as borough chief with two Wang brothers graduating from college, earning the Wang family a reputation as being part of the local gentry.
“This ancient house is magnificent and should be maintained,” Wang San-hung quoted Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) as saying during his visit to the building.