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Old Dongmen

This article was originally published on September 3, 2010, in the Shenzhen Daily.
The information was accurate at that time, and may be outdated now. Use with caution.

Dongmen is even older than China's first McDonalds (pictured here)
Few places in Shenzhen are as modern as the Dongmen shopping area. But did you know that two outposts of Shenzhen's history can be found here? Siyue Shuyuan and the Zhang Ancestral Hall are each around 300 years old--as old as the Dongmen shopping area itself.

Siyue Shuyuan

Siyue Shuyuan in Central Dongmen
Siyue Shuyuan is on the south side of the large, centrally-located Dongmen Culture Square. It was a library-cum-schoolhouse when first built, meant to educate members of the local Zhang clan and named for ancestor Zhang Siyue.

It housed runaway Hong Kong strikers protesting a 1925 massacre by the British in Shanghai, and for a time was used as an inn. Dismantled in 1996 for improvements to the area, it was faithfully reconstructed in 1999.

When businesses are open in the site, you can see the exquisite interior. Otherwise, take a seat under the old tree outside and gaze on a piece of history.

Here are a few pictures of the building's interior; when these were taken, the "shuyuan" was given over to Chinese cultural arts.

Next to the front door
In the back left corner
Where an altar (to whom?) might have been located

The Zhang Ancestral Hall

The front doorway to the Zhang Ancestral Hall in Dongmen
Next, cross the large bridge on Dongmen Road to Hubei Road. Walk east a few minutes, looking to your left, and you'll see the Zhang Ancestral Hall, up a short alley on the edge of Hubei Village.

The hall is noteworthy in that it hasn't recently been restored or upgraded. Imagine it with all the furnishings restored, as it looked when it witnessed a 1925 speech by Zhou Enlai. It was also a secret point of contact with British-held Hong Kong during the turbulence of the 1930s. Today it is home to squatters; taking care of the place, they welcome the rare visitor.

Interior of the hall, with modern buildings behind
For those who are mindful, these two places show traces of the old roots of this modern, vibrant city.

These sites are also discussed in other articles in the Shenzhen Daily:

GPS Info:
  • Siyue Library = 22.5464, 114.1198
  • Zhang Ancestral Hall = 22.5454, 114.1245

Click on the links to see the maps:

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