Chiang A-Hsin Mansion

Chiang A-Hsin Mansion in Hsinchu
(All photos courtesy of Chiang A-Hsin Mansion’s official Facebook page)

Chinese name
: 姜阿新洋樓

Located at: Beipu Township, Hsinchu County

On the lively Beipu Old Street in Beipu town, Hsinchu, the county historical site "Chiang A-Hsin Mansion", a magnificent and elegant white building, stands amid the national historic sites Jin Guang Fu Hall and Tienshuei Hall as well as the county’s historical site Citian Temple. It is very eye catching, provoking the curiosity of tourists. Why was this Western-style house built in a mostly Hakka town?

Chiang A-Hsin Mansion was built in 1946 by Chiang A-Hsin, a descendant of Chiang Shiu-luan (姜秀鑾), the head of Jinguangfu Land Reclamation Company (金廣福墾號) during the imperial Qing Dynasty. During the 1930s, the younger Chiang constructed a tea production factory (later renamed Yung Kuang Co., Ltd.), which cooperated with Japan’s Mitsui Norin and Britain’s Jardine Matheson in producing and exporting Taiwan’s black tea. Chiang A-Hsin later decided to build a western-style mansion as a reception house for his visiting clients and also for his family to live in. He began the construction in 1946, hiring his own nephew and architect Peng Yu-Li (彭玉理) to draw up the plan.

Chiang A-Hsin

The exterior of the white house is made using stone-washing, stone-cutting and imitating stone masonry methods. The courtyard walls are stacked with Beitou Qili’an stones. The architectural style creates a gorgeous fusion of the West and the East. Although this building is over 70 years old, its architectural fashion lasts to this day. From the building, we can learn that the owner, Chiang A-Hsin, placed importance on architectural details at all costs. We can also get a glimpse of that golden era of Beipu’s tea industry and the brilliant story of Taiwan’s close connection with the world.

Chiang A-Hsin Mansion

After the Second World War, Chiang A-Hsin, a local businessman, began exporting the fine Taiwanese black tea produced by his own Yung Kuang Company to the whole world and made a big fortune. This was also the proud era when Taiwan jumped onto the world stage by exporting high-quality tea, with many countries vying to buy it. In order to receive VIP guests from foreign tea trading companies and provide his family with a nice home to live in, he built this mansion, giving birth to this gorgeous architecture that is so much a part of Taiwan tea’s golden period.

Tea products

The two-story Mansion is 160 ping (528 square meters) in size. The interior woodwork is very fine and consists of high-quality wood such as Formosan Michelia, cypress, camphor, Taiwan Zelkova, and cedar. You must first take off your shoes and put on indoor slippers before entering the mansion. As soon as you enter, you will be amazed by the interior design which blends European patterns with oriental meanings. In the reception room, the magnificent furnishings give people the illusion that tea merchants from all over the world are sitting there talking about business. Then as you go up to the second floor, you will find that even the window lattices beside the stairs are built with complex construction methods and ingenuity, which makes the western-style building exude a warm and quiet atmosphere when the sun is shining.

Walking up to the second floor, apart from the ornate Chinese wooden chairs that were preserved from the past, you will find images of bats on the doors and windows around you; the word for bats in Chinese rhymes with the word for happiness, therefore putting bat depictions all around the home symbolizes having “happiness” or "blessings" coming from all directions. If you look up slightly, the decorations on the windows are inlaid with different types of wood. When you look up at the ceiling, you will find that it is made of patterns that look like turtle shells and copper coins, which symbolize longevity and wealth. In addition, there are a large number of circular vents on the ceiling to let air flow in and out of the building.

The interior of Chiang A-Hsin Mansion

A visit to Chiang A-Hsin Mansion will let you see the architectural expression of the owner Chiang A-Hsin’s romantic side, and also allow you to learn about the story of Beipu’s rich native son Chiang A-Hsin, who led Taiwan’s tea industry into the world.