I was writing about an old villa in recent post “Portrait of an old neighbour”. Like many cases in Shanghai 1920’s and 1930’s, the developer did not built one house… but two next to each other. This house has a twin sister, actually located on 132 Route Kaufmann (as opposed to 130 for the old neighbour). I was mentioning in my original post that the building was of high quality and would make a great renovation. As it turns out that the sister house has been fully renovated and is in fact a well known bar, Cotton’s, located in the next house on the street.
Since both houses were nearly identical at origin, comparing pictures taken in both houses gives great ideas on how this old neighbor could be revived into today’s standard. At the same time, it also shows the extend of renovation and transformation that has been done to the house that is now the bar. Most of the renovation was not done by the current house tenant, but a few years before for the previous tenant, a tea house.
The house porch has been little modified except with the addition of an external door. The front steps have also been changed for something shiny and new. Concrete floor (with probably the same circle shape) has been covered with wood floor.
The double wooden shutters have been replaced by a single one, that was probably easier to build than the original one. This also probably means that all windows frames have also been replaced.
renovated inside doors
Wood floors on all floors have been changed for new. Although the replacement is nice, is does not have the look nor the quality of the original inlay. As seen on picture left, the inside doors and door frames have old been for new and shiny. Looking at the state of the original ones in the non-renovated version it seems that a good cleaning and a nice wood varnishing would have allowed to keep the original doors that have sustained 80 years of mistreatment. In any case, the replacement fit more or less the original profile though they had a classical touch to a building that is definitely not classical style.
Addition of a classical touch was also done on the inside balcony. The original one was probably the same as next door… but surely not the current one. It’s interesting how the banister has been transformed by adding under it small colons that were not needed since they did not exist in the original staircase.
All in all, the renovation of 132 Route Kaufmann is not really museum class, as the material used do not really match the quality of the original. A different (and out of place) style has been introduced, putting pieces of classical castle style to a 20’s house. It seems the renovation was more following the fantasy of the owner than the original building. However, most of the original design has been kept, keeping the general feeling of the house intact and giving real atmosphere to the bar. One of the rare places with real firewood in Shanghai, Cotton’s is still one of my favorite hangout.
While researching these two houses, I realized that there are more similar houses in the neighborhood. More information about them will come in a further post.