Leaving Route Kaufmann

House Anting Lu
Leaving the house

Today was a major change in Shanghai for me. After 12 years of living in Old Shanghai houses (nearly all my stay in Shanghai), I finally moved to a modern high rise. My first Old Shanghai home was at the corner of Rue Lafayette (today Fuxing Lu) and Rue Pottier (today BaoQing Lu), beginning Avenue Pétain (today HengShan Lu), where I staid one year. More information about this great former banker’s home  in post First home in Old Shanghai. I then moved to the end of a lane of the tranquil Route Kaufmann.  Passage 81 Route Kaufmann (Anting Lu 81), was the entrance to a private lane, Route d’Adina (this small street has no name today, only Anting Lu 81). This was not only time travel, it was practically a time trap.

Waking up to the sounds of birds in the surrounding garden, at the very end of a quite lane was practically like living in Old Shanghai. Although we shared the house with 4 -5 neighbors (including some really evil ones), we had a 2 bedroom apartment in an old house, with most of the original doors, ceilings and windows. This apartment was just like a time machine and having taken it empty, we filled it slowly but surely with lot’s of Old Shanghai treasures found here and there.

sculpture Anting lu
Doors sculpture

I have often though about the original (wealthy) owners of the house (probably Chinese from my research). With the level of details, I assume they took great care in building this Spanish Revival house around 1936. Unfortunately for them, by 1937 the Japanese attacked Shanghai, invading the concessions in 1941. Then the Chinese revolution came in 1949 and the house was probably confiscated, if the original owners were still living in it. Looking at how little the other occupants I shared the house with cared about it, I can probably say that we lived longer in there than the original owner, while really caring about the house.

When I moved in, the house was in a good state, though it clearly was not really cared about. It was really similar to Eastern Europe communism confiscation of bourgeois property, sharing a beautiful building among numerous people who used it without care. Unfortunately, in the last 10 years, needed maintenance was lacking, including massive roof repair (to stop water leaks !), water proofing the walls, pruning the trees that obscured the house and cleaning the garden that became a jungle. Since nobody was willing to do anything… it became clear at some point that we needed to get away.  We waited as much as we could, but finally moved yesterday.

view
Room with a view

The major change is that we moved to a high rise. This is definitely a jump in time, a slide from Shanghai 1930’s straight to modern Shanghai. The great advantage is the view, overlooking Xu Jia Hui Park. We have moved to modernity but not left the French Concession, now living at the corner of Route Destelan (GuangYuan Lu) and Route Prosper Paris (Tianping lu), nor left our lovely furnitures and other items. Moving to modernity will surely not be the end of the passion for Old Shanghai nor of this blog… which is now turning 10 years old.

6 thoughts on “Leaving Route Kaufmann”

  1. Hi,
    I’ve been following you blog a while now and wanted to let you know I’m enjoying it. My interests are of a historical and genealogical nature. Many of my senior family were born in Hong Kong but in lived in Shanghai from about 1918 until the communist take-over. My great grandfather was a tea trader from Manchester who worked from Foochow. I’m in the process of uncovering some skeletons in our family wardrobe…not the least of which is some Asian DNA and now a link to a woman who may be my great grandmother. My grandfather had two brothers and a sister and I’ve been able to make contact with direct line descendants of all but one, and we all have matching percentages of Asian in our samples.
    I’ve never been to Asia myself; I was born in Los Angeles, in 1945. My mother and her sister both came to the states in 1941, but my grandfather, his brother and sister, as well as many friends and business associates, were all eventually interned.
    My family had a business in Shanghai and lived at Columbia Circle. The address was 301 Amherst Road. The house is still there but I believe the Road is now Xinhua and there is a lane number. The home is virtually unchanged on the exterior. Surprisingly I was able to find it on Google Earth and despite the fact that there’s no “street view” for Shanghai, there are “Panaramio” photos posted by a Japanese tourist named Takahara that show our house. He sent me a couple of extra shots he’s taken and I in turn sent him my originals from 1930.
    So besides giving you a heartfelt pat on the back for a great blog, I hope we can possible exchange info, since you are actually there in Shanghai. It’s been very difficult for me to find anyone who lives there and could maybe help with simple questions. I have quite a few old family photos, but of course many are difficult to assign locations to.
    If you would consider a dialogue, I would me greatly appreciative.
    Thanks and cheers!
    Brian Hunter Beesley
    Vancouver, BC, Canada

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