Chiang Kai-shek was its first headmaster; and former Premier Zhou Enlai was one of its teachers in the early years.
But Whampoa Military Academy – the famed military school established by Sun Yat-sen in 1924 which has produced many revolutionary heroes over the years – has now been converted into a nightclub.
The building at No 239 Yanjiang Zhong Road in Guangzhou, which once belonged to the Academy’s Guangdong Alumni Association, has been converted into a nightclub called the Hei Hei Club. And in case locals get confused, it now has a large neon sign erected on its rooftop, the Guangzhou Daily reports.
Although the 700 square metre building is not part of the military academy’s main campus on Changzhou Island, it was an important part of the school and was listed as a protected relic by the local government in 1987. It was also where General Chiang once worked.
“It is outrageous. Such an important heritage building has been destroyed,” Li Xianheng, former director of Guangdong Provincial Museum of Revolutionary History, laments.
According to Li, the new construction has seriously damaged the historical site, unearthing the foundations of the three-storey building and altering its structure. A notice recruiting staff for the nightclub has also replaced the commemorative plaque that declared the Academy a protected building.
Yu Haito, secretary of the Academy’s local alumni association called on local authorities to act. “Having such an important building used as a nightclub is just inappropriate,” he told the South China Morning Post.
But the local authorities denied knowledge of such a radical refurbishment, saying that the tenant had not submitted its final plans for approval.
“We have now filed a lawsuit against the nightclub,” claimed a local government official. The Hei Hei Club was forced to shut down on February 27.
Critics say the destruction of historical architecture isn’t unusual in China (see WiC18, ‘Destroy it and they will come’).
Quality and fame do not guarantee survival for historical buildings, as the world-renowned architect I.M. Pei found in 2001 when his ancestral home in Shanghai was demolished despite an international outcry to save it.
The Academy has survived previous turmoil – it was rebuilt after bombing by the Japanese in 1938.
Li Xianheng and other heritage lovers will hope it can recover from its brush with teenage clubbers.
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