民园西里

Origin • Past

Roofed in red tiles and walled in plain bricks, these buildings built in the 1920s and 1930s have a profound historic significance and rich cultural resources. Their predecessor Xiannong Courtyard, built in 1925, was the residence of the employees of Xiannong Company. As an earliest and largest enterprise in Tianjin that mainly relies on real estate, Xiannong Company can be seen as an epitome of modern foreign enterprises running real estate industry in Tianjin. Among its seven founders, American Hoover was widely well-known, who returned to America after making the first sum of money in Tianjin. Those days spent in Tianjin provided an indispensible assistance for him to become the 31st American President. 


Built in 1927, the former residence of the Mengs at No. 9 Hunan Road was originally owned by the Mengs from Shandong who run the famous “eight Xiang stores”, and the their Ruifuxiang Silk Store in Tianjin prospered for a period of time. The former residence of Ma Zhanshan at No.11 Hunan Road was once occupied by the anti-Japanese military officer Ma Zhanshan. In the “Jiangqiao battle”, Ma Zhanshan led the Northeast Patriotic Army to fight back and won the first victory against the Japanese, firing the first shot of the armed anti-Japanese war. In addition, the famous banker Tan Lisun and the famous medical scientist Wu Qingyuan once lived here as well.

Influenced by the Western architectural thoughts, block buildings were constructed in various architectural styles including eclectic Western foreign buildings, British attached houses, British independent villas, Art deco Chinese villas and modern buildings. The former Xiannong Courtyard has roofs with red tiles and walls with plain red bricks, which combine to form a simple and warm style. The former residence of the Mengs has a roof with red ceramic tiles and outer walls with plain bricks, presenting a simple and solemn architectural style. Each building in the block forms a view itself and coexists with the others in harmony. Standing among them, we feel as if seeing their old appearances.