I find the history and relationships Taiwan has had with nations like the United States and Japan absolutely fascinating. Unfortunately due to the development and rapid growth particularly of Taipei and New Taipei City many buildings that were apart of the history of America’s years of on island support are gone. The old U.S. Embassy has been replaced by the National Taxation Bureau. The U.S. Taiwan Defence Command is now the location of The Taipei Fine Arts Museum. I sense though that there are still places out there to be discovered and shared.
“In Zhongshan District, a vibrant area of Taipei where many luxury hotels are located sits an iconic building of the neighborhood with a past life deep rooted in American history.
When it was first built the former U.S. Ambassador’s residence was originally used as the U.S. Embassy during the Japanese colonial period of Taiwan. At the time of it’s completion in 1926 it was considered one of the most beautiful buildings on the island. The Western design with square floor plan and Grecian columns originally served as an administrative office as well as living quarters for the ambassadors and their families. When the United States established a new embassy after WWII this became the residence of the ambassador.
I liked that this building has been repurposed as a venue for films and a meeting place rather than a museum. I felt sitting in it’s converted atrium and enjoying the surroundings in an unhurried manner had alot more value as an experience then a walk through a building with roped off areas. Not only did I have a great time hanging out where a U.S. President once stayed I had a pretty interesting selection of movies I could choose to watch, from a documentary about an American photographer turned Buddhist monk to a Japanese man living with a bunch of cats.
In 1950 the United States started deploying U.S. military personnel to the island to aid the Republic of China with training, support, and economic relief. Special Western style housing was built for personnel including this almost 14 hectare site in the Yangmingshan area of Taipei City where many houses still remain today.
Some of the houses have been leased from the Bank of Taiwan and are occupied by local politicians, artists, and personnel of the American Institute in Taiwan, the defacto U.S. Embassy in Taipei. But it appears many are cafes.
The most recent building of the U.S. Taiwan Defense Command era to spring back to life is the Yangminghsan U.S. Military Club, now a Cultural and Creative Park with American style restaurants. This was also the home of the Grass Mountain Teen Club for personnel families. The Bank of Taiwan and a local tech company have invested over $3 million dollars in the renovation which includes a vinyl listening room and museum. Yes they passed the taste test and there are some beautiful grounds and a rooftop deck to enjoy the spectacular Yangminghan Park setting.”
Getting To The Yangmingshan U.S. Military Housing and Brickyard 33 1/3:Take the Red Line MRT to Shilin, leave Exit 1 and walk to Zhongzheng Rd. Catch Bus #5 to Yangmingshan. The ride will be approximately 20 minutes before you’ll get off at the Shanzihou Police Station stop. Walk across the street to Kaixuan Rd. You’ll see signs for Brickyard, just follow those and you’ll arrive there in about 5 minutes. This is also where you’ll see many of the military houses that are either private, cafes, or empty.
Getting To the Former U.S. Amassador’s Residence(SPOT Taipei Film House) take the MRT Red Line to Zhongshan Station. Walk West along Nanjing East Road to Zongshan Rd. North. turn left and walk to #18.
photos courtesy of http://taipics.com
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