Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Moller Mansion Mystery

From our 9th floor hotel window, Pipi and I could look right into the grounds of a building that our guidebook told us was called the Moller Mansion. It is not exactly a beautiful building, but it is impressive. (A lot of Shanghai architecture is like that.)

The book said the building had been constructed by a Swedish man in the colonial days, and that it had later been a communist youth league headquarters. After that, it became a hotel.

The book implied that it’s still a hotel, but if it is, it’s got the worst doormen in the world. I crossed the street to peek in the lobby one afternoon, and was chased away by a woman who kept repeating, “Closed, closed” in English. When I asked her in Mandarin what time I should come back, she ignored me with an intensity that only a Chinese security guard can muster.

The mansion’s web site says it’s accepting reservations for December. But it didn’t look like anyone was staying there during our time across the street. Almost all the lights were off at night, and I only rarely saw anyone on the grounds. It didn’t seem to be undergoing renovations, either. So the Moller Mansion’s purpose is a mystery for now.

One other mystery: Who does their landscaping? This monster topiary disturbs me a little bit.

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