What's that building?

At the top end of Chung Hwa Road in Taipei, north of the big overpass, on the corner is an old delapidated building. It looks kind of cool in a old wooden faded glory way. Any one know what it is or was? I think it has the train logo on it.

You mean this one?

It’s the former location of the Taiwan Railway Administration.

Click here for more photos of Japanese colonial period buildings.

I think it’s sad that Taipei has let a lot of historical buildings go to crap, especially many of the Japanese-era houses (that could be purchased by the city and made into museums, art galleries, or something useful), and the few remaining Qing-era buildings. There’s one in particular in the Wanhua district as your driving toward the Guanghua bridge (past the Renji Convalescent Hospital). It’s a plain-looking Qing-era buildling that could be really beautiful if it was refurbished. I’ve seen a few others around town that are looking pretty sad too.

I was in Danshui the other week and by accident stumbled across an old Japanese era house that had recently been designated an historical site. In fact, it was one of five that month that were slated for preservation. The student volunteer told us that the problem with preserving these houese is that as soon as the owners discover they are going to be designated an historical site they tear them down. The owner of the house we were in managed to destroy 3 others.

I think taipei itself has done and is doing an okay job of preserving old buildings. Certainly in the last few years we have seen the refurbishing of many old places and more are slated for the future. Just because they haven’t gotten to the building in your neighborhood doesn’t mean they never will. As for turning them into museums and such what do you think they have done with the Red House Theatre, Taipei Story House, SPOT, the old water station in Jingmei, Chiang Kai Shek’s villas (though these are still private, I believe) and so on. Give the city a break sometimes. Do you think they have an unlimited budget?

From the Taipei Times:

On the northeast corner of Renai and Linsen (a block north of CKS memorial) is a newly refurbished ancient gate. I know it’s not one of the original city gates as its location lies outside the old city wall (demarcated by Zhongshan, Aiguo, Zhonghua, and Zhongxiao). Anybody know the history behind this particular gate?

The old TRA building has been incorporated into the recently inaugurated National Taiwan Museum System. Aside from the historical outer building (pictured above), there is also a WWII era battery in the courtyard.

BTW, the staff are extremely friendly and will gladly give you a tour upon request.

Was anyone else in Taipei during the time that the old US Ambassador’s residence was just left to rot for 20 years? It’s on Chung Shan N. Rd. Sec. 1, just north of Nanjing W. Road and across from the Grand Formosa Hotel.

Right before I came back to the US for the last time (for a while?), they had completed renovations on it and turned it into some kind of film museum and salon.

But for the longest time, it was the most pathetic thing I’d ever seen–a beautiful, nearly 100-year old house of grand dimensions, left to fall apart for political reasons.