We were walking with Harmony along one of the main roads in Neihu near the Wende subway stop when we discovered another piece of Neihu history.
I have walked past this curious gate on the road across from the Neihu high school and not given it a second glance
There was a sign next to the gate saying that it was the entrance to the Guo Ziyi House, which was open to the public for tours. We decided to check it out, since we had some time before dinner. It was a steep climb up the hill, with a lot of stairs. You cannot see the house from the road, as it is that far up the hill above the road!
The Guo Ziyi House was interesting, as its architecture was more in an European than Asian style. It was built in 1917. It is a two-story Western-style red-brick house. The T-shaped house is decorated with colored tiles imported from Japan, and Baroque-style embellishments.
There was a traditional family ancestor shrine in one of the rooms downstairs.
Guo Ziyi (697-781) was a Tang Dynasty statesman, known for his impressive feats 1,250 years ago. He is the ancestor of the world’s Guo (often spelled “Kuo” in Taiwan) clan. He earned his fame for ending the An Shi Rebellion in 755, and served under four Tang emperors. In 762, Guo was made Prince of Fenyang for his achievements.
This room was formerly the dining room of the house. A variety of historical documents were on display,
The Guo Ziyi House was the home of the first Neihu Village mayor Kuo Hua-jang during the Japanese colonial era, and it was designated as a municipal historical heritage site by the Taipei City Government in 1999.
This room was the library. It had many interesting historical displays. Unfortunately (for me), everything on display only had signs in Chinese. And the tour guide was explaining everything in Chinese. So most of what I am writing about is what Jeff translated for me.
There were stairs going to second floor in a hallway on the back of the house. The red bricks used in the Guo Ziyi House are larger (about 4 inches) and denser than those used today.
Here is a view looking out of a first floor window to the yard in the back of the house.
Despite being designated as a historical site, the house continued to be neglected for more than a decade
Thanks to the efforts of the World Guo Clan’s Association President Kuo Shih-chi, starting in October, 2010, the house was given a year-long facelift. This effort was lead by Guo Ching-po, another member of the Guo clan and a master craftsman who specializes in restoration work of historical structures.
It must be nice to have such expertise in your extended family when you need to restore your ancestral home! Even so, the total renovation cost was approximately $50 million NT ($1.6 million US dollars). The World Guo Clan Association donated more than $30 million NT of these funds and the Taipei City Government provided the rest of the money needed to complete the restoration.
The photo below shows how the house looked before its restoration.
The photo below was taken after the restoration of the Guo Ziyi House. World Guo Clan family members came from all over the world to visit the house. There are more than 500 of them in the photo below!