Puyi’s former home demolished — but when?

Puyi and Li Shuxian in front of their still-standing residence.

Puyi’s final residence is no more. A house formerly occupied by last emperor of the Qing Dynasty was so badly damaged in the rainstorm that flooded Beijing at the end of July that it had to be pulled down, The Beijing News reported on August 15.

The western-style property in Xicheng District was home to Puyi and his wife Li Shuxian 李淑贤 from 1963 to his death in 1967. Historian Chen Guangzhong 陈光中 told the paper that although the property was not designated a historic landmark, it was nevertheless was historically significant as a witness to the Emperor’s transformation into an ordinary citizen. Sun Tiexiang 孙铁祥, a district land management official, said that the house would be rebuilt on the same site. Reports in other Beijing-based newspapers such as the China Daily and Global Times told much the same story.

The condemned property has the street address #64 South Caochang Hutong 南草厂胡同64号. The Beijing News article notes that the address of Puyi’s former residence was #40 East Guanying Hutong 东冠英胡同40号院 (formerly #23 East Guanyin Temple Hutong 东观音寺胡同23号), but that the two properties abut each other and are “practically a single unit.”

However, Beijing Morning Post consulted with the Xicheng Culture Committee for clarification and then published a follow-up report: Puyi’s house was actually demolished back in the 1990s when the surrounding neighborhood was redeveloped, and the South Caochang Hutong building currently being torn down is an entirely unrelated property used for district government business. The confusion apparently stems from the fact that the two properties shared an identical layout and architecture.

Links and Sources

Danwei is an affiliate of the Australian Centre on China in the World at The Australian National University. This posting is a result of one project that is part of that on-going collaboration.

China Heritage Quarterly and East Asian History are two other publications supported by the Australian Centre on China in the World.

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