(Text by Reporter Shi Danni/Photograph by Reporter Yu Ruwen) No. 65 Hengdeli, Lane 633, Changde Road is the former residence of Nei Er, who lived here together with Li Jinhui, Zhou Xuan and so on after being admitted by Ming Yue Singing and Dancing Club. With the traces left by the long history, Hengdeli where the former residence of Nie Er is located is in mess now with residents’ odds and ends occupying the road and motor vehicles parked disorderly. Through the construction of “Beautiful Home”, Hengdeli residential area restores its past appearance. Two relief sculptures of Nie Er playing the violin and the music score of “March of the Volunteers” as well as several flowery walls bring back here the brilliance of old days.
Visitors coming in an endless stream out of admiration
The 85 years old Wang Shun’e has been living in Hendeli residential area since she moved here at the age of 4. Before she bought the house of No.65 Hengdeli, she had no idea that this was the former residence of Nie Er. “When my neighbor told me that Nie Er once lived in my house, I felt really proud.”
After the construction of the “Beautiful Home”, more and more visitors come here out of admiration with some even knocking at the gate of aunt Wangs’ home with the hope of visiting the house inside. Aunt Wang said that if she had time, she would lead them stroll in the room and talk about the story of Nie Er. She also has a note book of newspaper articles extracted by her husband in 2008 which records all news reported in history about Nie Er by newspapers in Shanghai that time. When there are visitors, Aunt Wang will take out this notebook to “popularize culture”. Pointing at the courtyard, Aunt Wang said: “At that time, they will dance, organize activities and rehearse here. This house is a cultural salon for them.”
Resident’s living room turns into a cultural card
To show the cultural history of Hengdeli, in the construction of “Beautiful Home”, Jiangning Road Sub-district decided to demonstrate the historical story of the former residence of Nie Er with relief sculptures at the entrance of the lane and to improve the environment with a flowery wall.
The home of Luo Qiang who has been living in Hengdeli for over 50 years is just facing the relief sculptures. He told the reporter: “I have been living here for more than half of my life. When I opened the door before, there would only be a white wall and a lane piled with all kinds of articles where private cars were parked sometimes. But now on opening the door, one will find the relief sculpture of Nie Er playing the violin and the jasmine on the wall somewhat sending forth fragrance making one feel refreshed.” Before long, his relatives living in America came back to visit the whole family and were amazed by the transformation of the lane. Before their departure, they took pictures with the Nie Er flowery wall to bring back to America as mementos.
For residents’ convenience, the residential committee placed fitness equipment and benches for rest around the flowery wall where residents used to pile articles on the road against regulations. Now after meals, residents can gather here to admire flowers, chat or exercise. Some residents who opposed the transformation before now have changed their minds, when the real changes occurred before their eyes. One household who didn’t remove their articles in the lane now looks after the flowery wall and relief sculptures voluntarily and reports to the residential committee when there is any damage found. Residents said with joy: “the construction of ‘Beautiful Home’ makes the public know the location of the former residence of Nie Er and brings us benefits as well.” Lu Jianping, Secretary of Hengdeli Residential Area, told the reporter that this transformation has not only brought sense of responsibilities to residents in maintaining the lane’s tidiness but further promoted the acceptance of self-governance among residents.
To preserve the historical cultural heritage on the basis of local cultural features
The years living in Hengdeli marks the most important phase of Nie Er’s life. According to historical data, Ming Yue Singing and Dancing Club was founded by the famous composer Li Jinhui. At that time, those in and out the Club were all celebrities, like Wang Renmei, Li Lili, Bai Lizhu, Zhao Dan, Zhou Xuan, Ruan Lingyu and so on. It was at that time that Nie Er got to know Tian Han, the lyricist of the national anthem, and began to be influenced by the progressive thoughts.
Besides the former residence of Nie Er, there are many other characteristic old buildings located in Hengdeli: the detached villas in No.759 Kangding Road and No. 770, Wuding Road, the English garden house in No.522, Jiaozhou Road and historical buildings like the former site of the Political Security and Intelligence Agency of the CPC Central Committee. To further promote the cultural heritage, the Hengdeli Neighborhood Committee contacted teachers and students of the High School Afflicted to Shanghai Theater Academy and Orange Art Institution within the jurisdiction to carry out patriotism education activities here regularly, including reciting patriotic poetry, visiting Hengdeli, understanding the history before the former residence of Nie Er and having group photos taken as a memento.
The reporter learned that, in addition to improving residents’ living environment via hardware transformation, the construction of “Beautiful Home” this time in Jiangning Road Sub-district has attached emphasis to preserving the historical cultural heritage on the basis of local features, restoring the cultural memory of Jingning as well as creating the cultural highlight of beautiful city and the construction of “Beautiful Home”. “QR code” will be placed before these historic conservation buildings to tell their history to visitors.