Why is Xue Fucheng Former Residence special?
The emperor’s envoy mansion—Xue Fucheng’s former residence, also known as Xue Family Garden or Xues Garden, was first built in 1890 and completed in 1894. Xue Fucheng was one of the well-known ideologists, diplomatists and one of the leading exponents to make national bourgeoisie reform in late Qing Dynasty.
On the central axis of the former residence, there are six sections, consisting of entrance hall, main hall, room hall, roundabout building, etc. There are also library, east garden, rear garden and west garden. It covers an area of 21,000 square meters. It reflects the times feature at the end of Qing Dynasty when the western world began to influence the east. The complex shows a harmonious combination of modern civilian residences and the garden construction art of South China. It is the most splendid mansion in South China with important historical value and the value of research.
Xue Fucheng Former Residence Highlights
As the No. 1 Roundabout Building in China, it is also called race course building and circular building. It is the largest and most characteristic place in the architectural complex of Xue’s former residence. Chinese and foreign crafts and materials are in complete harmony, fully embodying the unique style of combination of Chinese and western architecture.
Library (Chuanjing Building)
Xue Fucheng highly praised the famous book collection building Tianyige in Ningbo, Zhejiang province. So he asked his son to construct a book collection building according to the model of Tianyige, and named it as “Chuanjing” (pass on valuable experience). In the past there were tens of thousands of books stored here. After liberation the books were accepted and kept by the historical relic management committee. Now they are stored in Nanjing Museum, Nanjing Library and Suzhou University respectively.
Originally Xue’s family engaged in farming generation after generation. “Wuben” has the implication to warn its descendants to remember that farming is essential. It was the place where guests were received and important activities were held. The guests might enter the east side hall to recite or compose poetry, appreciate paintings, play musical instrument or chess, or enter the west side hall to talk about the past and present, discuss state affairs. Its craft is the most exquisite in the whole architectural complex. The painted ridgepole is decorated with phoenix, it is splendid. The fine bricks and wood carvings are exquisite, showing ingenuity. It reflects the highest level of architectural craft at that time.
Loquat Garden, different from the delicacy and exquisite of Humble Administrator’s Garden or Master-of-Nets Garden in Suzhou, is an important component part on the east axis. The well in the garden is original. The style of well and its pavilion implies that the heaven is round and the earth is square, the fortune will not flow outward. Curved corridor winds through the garden, loquats hang on branches. The garden still exists but people here are not the same ones. Pondering present and past, all sorts of feelings well up in the mind.