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Wu Tongwen's Residence

A four-storey green building at the cross section of Beijing Xilu Road and Tongren Road was surrounded by the wall built with green bricks and in a shape of arch, looking like a passenger liner, known as "green house" by people of old Shanghai.

L.E. Hudec (see biographical sketch of Hudec), a master of architecture of Hungary, was closely connected with architecture of Shanghai. He left several dozens of architecture work during the twenty years of his stay in Shanghai and he finished his last work in 1938 which was the "green house" at 333 Tongren Road. The owner of the house Wu Tongwen used to be a master of paint, a merchant prince of old Shanghai.

At the date of completion of the house Hudec guaranteed by slapping his chest that after fifty years this house was still ahead of the times and I believed that it was still not out of the times even after one hundred years. It would be a classic of architecture.

To make the house the only one Wu Tongwen even bought the blueprint of its design and locked it in his strong box. It was a pity the blueprint was lost during the "culture revolution." The furniture in the house was made to order by a famous American furniture company located at Nanjing Xilu-Raod at that time.

The China Daily, a newspaper in English in Shanghai, published a special report in 1939 saying:"this building is one of the most luxury residential houses in the Far East area and its design style is ultramodern……" In order to see it with his own eyes Leighton Stuart, president of Yanjing University at that time made a special trip to look at it. He had picture taken together with Wu Tongwen at the invitation of Wu when they had dinner together. It was just this picture that brought Wu a great disaster because it seemed that his action was against what Mao Zedong once said in his article "Bye, Leighton Stuart." Wu and his wife both committed suicide in the green house in August 1966.

Cheng Naishan, a writer, having a little connection with Wu Tongwen, narrated various past events in an old house in her novel with the main character named Gu Chuanhui. No one would expect that the old house could have a new lease of life and have a new owner, Gu Chuanhui, a famous architect of Taiwan. What a coincidence that the new owner has the same name and age with the hero of the novel Blue HOuse.

Gu Chuanhui once took part in the work of the building of Pudong Airport, Shanghai Theatre and some other projects in Shanghai. One day when he drove passing the green house occupational sensitivity made him believe that it must be a work of world-level architecture master. When he finally found out that it was the masterpiece of L.E. Hudec he was so excited. After repeated setbacks he won the leasing right and spent eight million RMB to renew the house. Now the first and second floors are bar and headquarters of nongovernmental organizations and the three and fourth floors are offices of architects and residential houses.

Such romantic stories of the green house and Blue House must attract a lot of visitors.

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