Pine Garden

Pine Garden in Hualien County
(All photos courtesy of CNA)

Chinese name
: 松園別館

Located at: Hualien City, Hualien County

The Pine Garden in Hualien was built between 1942 and 1943. It was named after the pine forest and the quiet environment it was located in. The garden’s predecessor was the highest military command center of the Japanese army in Hualien, and it was also a conscription unit during the Japanese occupation era in Taiwan. It was called the "Hualian Port Military Affairs Department (花蓮港兵事部)". The nearby "Broadcasting Bureau" (broadcasting station), "Coast Station" (long-distance telecommunications administration), and water treatment plant were all important buildings at that time.

During the Japanese rule, this facility was once the rest stop for senior officers. It is now the most complete military building left in Hualien County from that time. The Pine Garden in Meilun Mountain (美崙山) has a commanding height and a good view of the surrounding area. It was the best location for military purposes, including monitoring the warships and vessels in the Pacific Ocean and grasping the take-off and landing of aircraft in the nearby airport. The dense pine branches and leaves make this gray building seem even more hidden and secretive.

Pine Garden

After the end of the Second World War, this place was taken over by the Kuomintang army. In 1947, the management unit was the Army Headquarters. Later, it became the leisure and vacation center of the US Army Advisory Military Corps. Its management was transferred to the State Property Bureau in 1977 and was handed over to the Executive Yuan's Retirement Association in 1978. In 1996, it was reported that the park would be sold to a consortium. Many young people and non-profit organizations in Hualien rallied civil society to save the building and succeeded in winning widespread support from the people and elected officials, successfully preserving Pine Garden.

The four buildings in Pine Garden include: the main building (now the main exhibition space), the Pine Garden Restaurant, the Pine Garden Workshop and the small wooden house. The main building is a two-story western-style building with a mixture of brick-wood and reinforced concrete designed in the form of "eclecticism"; the so-called "eclectic" type of building refers to the Baroque style of the main building of the Pine Garden, with arcades and roofs on the first and second floors, and Japanese-style tile roofs. This architectural style that combines East and West is a representative of "eclecticism." The interior consists of Japanese-style wooden windows and sliding door transoms, and wooden truss roofs. The Pine Garden originally had five buildings. A wooden gatehouse that was once located next to the entrance of the gate was demolished due to serious disrepair and severe damage.

Since its opening in 2003, the garden has presented a slice of history to local people. The sea-viewing platform, wooden boardwalk, and art space were later built. To revitalize and reuse cultural assets, Pine Garden has occasionally organized pine-themed events, such as artist creation camps, artist residency, and multiple art and literature lectures, exhibitions, seminars, performances and other diverse activities. The Pacific Poetry Festival is held from October to November every year, inviting poets and writers from different ethnic backgrounds, including the Hakka and indigenous communities, to recite poems together, making Pine Garden a center of poetry and prose in Taiwan.