|The nearly-demolished 150-year-old Shen's House on Huayi Street yesterday.(Shanghai Daily)|
Shanghai cultural heritage authorities have stopped the dismantling of a 150-year-old downtown building hidden behind old residential houses, but most of the historic structure has already been demolished.
The roof and walls of the three-story wooden structure known as "Shen's House" on Huayi Street in Huangpu District have been removed, but some delicate sculptures of flowers and patterns still can be seen on the pillars and beams and other relics.
The building was awaiting final approval to be listed as a protected building but the developer tore it down in a hurry, Zhou Lijun, an official with the Cultural Heritage Bureau of Huangpu, told Shanghai Daily yesterday.
The bureau asked workers to stop the demolition work over the weekend but found that the majority of the structure had already been destroyed. "The only thing we can do now is to relocate some important parts of the building to preserve them and may be exhibit them to the public," she suggested.
The building, covering about 500 square meters, is hidden behind rows of old residential buildings in Dongjiadu area, an old community where most residents have been moved out due to the area's redevelopment.
Some new buildings of high-end apartments that offer a view of the Huangpu River have been erected behind the old houses.
"The Shen's House was quite famous in the area because the building was quite beautiful and its interior decoration was luxurious," said the owner of a shop near the building who has lived here for 30-plus years.
He said more than 10 families, including the descendants of the said Shen, were living in the building, but who moved out 10 years ago and the house remained vacant.
The developer launched the demolition work a month ago, with plans to replace it with a high-rise, forcing neighboring residents to seek help from local media. They posted photographs on the microblog site weibo.com that drew the attention of the bureau, the shop owner, who declined to be named, said.
The Shen's House was built in 1860 by Shen Yisheng, a shipping merchant from southeast China's Fujian Province, as one of the most luxurious residential houses in the city.
"Though the historic building is not yet under legal protection, the developer still had no right to demolish it without permission from the historic heritage authority," said Tian Baojiang, professor with the construction and urban planning school of Tongji University.
The heritage bureau said that since the building had yet to be listed as a protected cultural relic, it could not take legal measures to punish the developer.