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Xilin Villa and Kanqing Villa, Witnesses to an Overseas Chinese Tycoon[2016-11-23]

Xilin Villa

Kanqing Villa

Xilin Villa Saw from a Distance

Exquisite Architectural Component

Western-style Decorations

Huang Zhongxun, the owner and builder of Xilin Villa and Kanqing Villa, was a legendary overseas Chinese from Kulangsu. 

Huang Zhongxun was a Xiucai in the Qing Dynasty, a typical traditional Chinese scholar and second-generation rich. Later, he went to Southeast Asia and started his real estate business with his clan and became a well-known tycoon. He was also a Chinese with French nationality. He was the one who won Huang Rongyuan Villa through a gamble. He built Kanqing Villa in 1918 and Xilin Villa in 1927at the foot of Sunlight Rock, but the villas brought him trouble. He even appeared in a famous Chinese writer, Lu Xun’s article because his garden occupied public areas at the foot of Sunlight Rock.

Returned Chinese Built Western-style Buildings on Kulangsu

The detailed decoration of the villas perfectly combines Chinese and French architectural styles. On the right gate post of Kanqing Villa, there is a couplet says I always express my great ambitions in my house, I wonder how much time the God will give me to fulfill my aspirations, which shows the owner’s ambition and disposition. The building is not only a reflection of the owner’s background, but a demonstration of the owner’s personality.

Huang Zhongxun’s ancestral home was in Nan’an, Fujian. He used to live in Xiamen for a short time and was a Xiucai in the late Qing Dynasty. In 1901, his father passed away. He travelled far to Vietnam and inherited his father’s huge real estate business and it was in this period that he joined the French nationality. It was said that he had extensive properties in Vietnam, with over 30,000 houses. Half of the house property along the embankment of Saigon belonged to his family. It is his assets that give him such confidence and mentality. 

In 1913, millionaire Huang Zhongxun went back to China for the first time and expanded his real estate business to Kulangsu. In 1918, He built Kanqing Villa, a building combing Chinese and French characteristics, in a low-lying area at the foot of Sunlight Rock. The appearance of the L shaped building is typically French. The first floor has a square elevation and the second floor circular elevation. The balustrade on the second floor has X shaped decoration and all the columns on both floors are Doric style. When the construction of Kanqing Villa was completed, Huang Zhongxun built Houfanglan Building on its east side in commemoration of his father’s achievements in Vietnam. It was said that Huang Zhongxun’s father used to financially assist a French businessman in Vietnam. Later, the businessman’s son was dispatched to Houfanglan (name in Chinese Pinyin), a virgin land in Vietnam, to open up a new trading port. To thank Huang Zhongxun’s father’s assistance, the son told the Huang family to buy a large area of land there and do the real estate business. After the establishment of the port, the price of the real estate skyrocketed and the Huang family became rich overnight.

In 1927, Huang Zhongxun planned to build a new villa and a new villa named Xilin Villa was built in the Northwest of Kanqing Villa. Xilin Villa had an area of 1,360 square meters. Its design drawing was brought back from the Philippines by Huang Zhongxun and the villa was built by a construction team from Shanghai. Pilasters, columns, beams and windows were built by red bricks and decorated by white granitic plaster, the differences of which was a typical decoration style of buildings built at the beginning of the 20th century on Kulangsu. Both villas, due to their good geographic locations, became part of Sunlight Rock.