The story of the Lubeck family… and their house in Shanghai

Carlos Lubeck
Carlos Lubeck and wife

The posts “portrait of an old neighbor” and “meet the twin sister“, I talked about two old houses in my neighborhood, on what is now Anting Lu. I also mentioned the old address “132 Route Kaufman”… this is how Steven Lubeck found me. We have been exchanging a few emails since and this post is a short story of his family and the house they lived in, 132 Anting Lu… i.e. the bar Cotton’s at the corner of Jiang Guo lu and Anting lu.

Steven Lubeck great grandfather L.A. Lubeck (his gravestone is in the Protestant Cemetery in Macao) came from Sweden to Macao – the Portuguese colony near Hong Kong -in the 1850’s as a seaman, started a stevedoring business, married a Portuguese woman and had two sons, Luiz and Henrique C. In June 1863, a typhoon destroyed the business and killed L. A. Lubeck and his wife.  The Portuguese authorities took charge of the surviving boys aged 5 and 3 and they were raised by foster parents.  The younger boy, Henrique (Steven’s grandfather) first became a merchant seaman, then decided on a business career and moved to Shanghai.  His son (Steven’s father) Carlos Borromeo Lubeck was born in Shanghai in August 1892 and part of a large family –  Henrique married again after his first wife died and had several more children.

The Lubeck house in the 1930's
The Lubeck house in the 1930’s

Carlos was educated in the Marist brothers schools at Jeanne d’Arc on Rue Paul Doumer (todays Dong Hu Lu) and St. Francis Xavier for the higher levels.  Carlos was married first to Lucy Zi, they had two adopted daughters, Bernadette (or Berna) and Bertha who became a Catholic nun in the U.S. Carlos Lubeck then married Steven’s mother Anna Yang in 1931 when she was not quite 18 and he was 39.  They had a long and happy marriage with 8 children born in Shanghai (one boy died of pneumonia at age 1), then a last child born in the U.S.  Carlos Lubeck died at age 89 in 1981 and Anna Yang died at age 90 in 2003.

Carlos Lubeck was employed all his working life by the French Electric Utility and Transportation Company where he became a high-level executive. He is mentioned as secretary in the 1930’s role of employment of the company (source: Les Français de Shanghai).

Lubeck's house
Lubeck’s house

Steven’s parents left the house with a power of attorney for his mother’s brother and a business friend.  Over the following years, the became a public library, then converted into 6 housing apartments including one in the garage and one in the attic on the third floor (his mother saw this transformation on a visit in 1982), then many years later (probably about 2000) the house was an “international style” restaurant.  A few years after that (about 2003), a private family lived in. 1st of January 2005, this house became the bar Cotton’s.

The house was designed by “Leonard, Vesseyre & Kruz”, the famous French architecture firm that designed many villas and art deco buildings in the French Concession. They were part of the work commissioned by the real estate developement firm FONCIM, that included a series of houses with a similar style in this area of Route Cohen (GaoAn Lu), Route Frelupt (Jiang Guo Lu) and Route Kaufman (AnTing Lu). The style is called “Neo-Normand”, ressembling houses from the Normandy region in France. These houses were used to accomodate top managers of the French firms as well as Chinese government officials. When these houses were constructed time, this part of the French Concession was still the countryside (!), or at least Shanghai suburb. It is now the center of modern Shanghai.

For more information about Leonard, Vesseyere & Kruz and its work, see post “Shanghai’s Art Deco Master” and “The return of the Dauphine“.


3 thoughts on “The story of the Lubeck family… and their house in Shanghai”

  1. I’m a son of one of the Carlos and Tedi Lubeck children “Dympna” who was born in 1937. Thank you for publishing this material Hugh. We have recently discovered that our G(Great) GGG Mother – Spouse of Louis Agustus and Mother to Luiz and Henrique was Matilde Rosa’lia Barreto a family of traders and bankers from Bombay. I guess it is starting to get pretty far from the Shanghail content but I think still fascinating to see that all roads and many families led to Shanghai.

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