Start at Soong Ching Ling Memorial Residence (1843 Huaihai Zhong Lu), a stately house of one of the celebrated Soong sisters and the wife of ‘father of the country’ Sun Yat-sen. Tour the house museum for a glimpse into Soong Ching Ling’s remarkable life. Look for ships and anchors carved on the window shutters and the fish-shaped weathervane on the roof – traces of the residence’s original owner Captain Leo R Ball, who lived here from 1922-30 and helped to guide larger ships up the Huangpu River.
Across the street from Soong Ching Ling’s residence is the Normandie Apartments, one of Shanghai’s architectural treasures, at 1850 Huaihai Zhong Lu. The French Renaissance-style building with its grand arcade, ornate cornice, and elegant balconies was designed by Hungarian master architect Laszlo Hudec, and in the1940s housed a cosmopolitan mix of international residents and stars of the Chinese silver screen, including Zhao Dan. Walk into the main lobby to see the original terrazzo floor and the grand flagpole at the entrance.
Walk to the intersection and continue to 390 Wukang Lu. This elegant Mediterranean-style villa was built for a Mr Alfred Eric Sheppard Thompson, owner of an import-export firm who lived here from 1918-22. When he went spectacularly bankrupt, the villa was sold to stockbroker Lewis R Andrews, who lived there from 1928 to 1931, during which time he and his wife found themselves the victims of an ‘arranged robbery’ with all of Mrs Andrews’ Paris gowns and every piece of French lingerie stolen, according to the North China Herald.
Walk to 113 Wukang Lu. This 1920s European-style villa with its pebble-dash exterior and gambrel roof was originally the home of British chemist Dr Alan Richardson and his family for almost 20 years. By 1955, it became the home of the renowned writer Ba Jin, who lived here until his death in 2005. Now the Ba Jin House Museum, it’s filled with his books, manuscripts, photographs and a lovely garden.
Continue to 288 Wuyuan Lu and walk to the end of the lane, where you’ll find the Zhang Leping Museum (Tue Sun 9am-4.30pm, free). Zhang Leping was the creator of the beloved San Mao cartoons, the little orphaned boy who navigated his way through the streets of Shanghai, drawing attention to social injustice and anti Japanese feelings. The first floor of this beautiful villa features well-curated exhibitions on Zhang Leping’s art, while the upstairs showcases his bedroom and study, with original furniture.
Adapted from Carolyn Robertson’s Wukang Lu chapter in Historic Shanghai
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