Explore Kaohsiung's Adventure of Development Chen Jhong-he Memorial Hall／探訪高雄發展歷程 陳中和紀念館
Explore Kaohsiung's Adventure of Development
Chen Jhong-he Memorial Hall
◎English translation: Lin Fu-ju
◎Photos by Huang Ching-wen
If you stroll through the alleyways between Siwei Road and Chenggong Road in Kaohsiung's Lingya District, you will notice in a tranquil residential area an old baroque-style mansion facing the harbor.
This is Chen Jhong-he's former residence, now the Chen Jhong-he Memorial Hall. Chen is a famous figure in Kaohsiung's history. Chen family businesses are closely connected with the development of Kaohsiung, and the clan was one of the five best-known families in old Taiwan. Chen's son Chen Chi-chuan became mayor of Kaohsiung City; his grandson Chen Tien-mao served as speaker of Kaohsiung City Council.
Chen Jhong-he was born in 1853. When he was 16, he became an apprentice at Shun He Trading Company, owned by Chen Fu-chian. A year later, he was assigned to do business in Fuzhou, in Fujian on the Chinese coast. After Chen Fu-chian died, Chen Jhong-he - then 25 years old - established He Hsing Trading Company. He made a great fortune dealing in sugar, fabrics, and other goods in Takao (as Kaohsiung was then known) and Hong Kong. During the Japanese colonial era, the Chen family started to explore other industries, including sugar, salt, rice milling, and land leasing. After World War II, they expanded into the cement industry and the financial sector.
Chen Jhong-he's former residence was built around 1920 when the family business was at its peak. It took nine years to complete the building. Local Kaohsiung people called the residence a "Western tower," as it was the first Western-style building in Kaohsiung and the tallest building facing the harbor. As the family dispersed, this landmark residence became deserted. In 1996, the Chen Jhong-he Charity Foundation restored the residence and opened its door to the public as a memorial to the Chen family and a witness of Kaohsiung's development the past century.
The building covers 2,975 square meters, or 8,925 square meters including the yard. Some 2,645 square meters was restored as the Chen Jhong-he Memorial Hall. The hall has a baroque facade and a symmetrical interior of nine rooms. Rooms were allocated to each family member based on seniority, in some the original decoration has been retained. These rooms have been turned into exhibition spaces where artifacts are displayed.
In the exhibition rooms on the first floor, visitors can learn about the important events in Chen Jhong-he's life. Artifacts like company safes and stocks are also shown. Chen's bedroom and living room can be found on the second floor. Much of the furniture is original, and the delicacy and skill reflected by the exquisite carvings is incredible. The shell-filigree decorations on the furniture reflect sunlight, adding a sense of extravagance. Take a closer look, and you will see carvings of bats, peaches and other auspicious symbols. Each carving tells a story and the technique is extraordinary. Other rooms in the memorial hall display apparel and utensils which date from Chen's era, giving visitors a glimpse of how rich families lived back then, as well as a better understanding of how entrepreneurs managed their affairs.
Opening Hours: 10:00 am to 4:30 pm (Second Saturday of every month only)
Address: No. 14, Lingdong Road, Kaohsiung City