This beautiful western-style house is located along a country road in Puxin 埔心, a rural township in the heart of Changhua 彰化, central Taiwan. It was built in 1940 by a man by the name of Huáng Yì 黃義, a wealthy employee (presumably an executive) of the Japanese colonial era Taiwan Sugar Company 台糖公司. If this government source is to be believed Huang Yi had five wives who bore him five sons—and some unknown number of daughters. No wonder he needed such a large house!
Nowadays the house is generally known as the former residence of Huáng Sānyuán 黃三元, one of Huang Yi’s sons, whose given name literally means “three dollars”. He was a famous Taiwanese singer and actor who rose to fame in the late 1950s and enjoyed widespread popularity throughout the 1960s. His career (but not his life) was cut short after suffering a grave motorbike accident in 1969. From what I can tell it sounds like he retired to this house to live out the rest of his days (he passed away in 1999). In case you’re curious YouTube has several of his recordings online, for example here and here.
I learned of this place while planning a route from Yuánlín 員林 to the sugar factory in Xīhú 溪湖. These days Google Maps has an “explore” feature that opens a bar at the bottom of the screen populated with user-submitted photographs and a random assortment of pictures from Street View. This is actually a pretty good way to discover obscure yet interesting locations out in the Taiwanese countryside.
Anyhow, today I learned that this is still a private residence, not a public attraction. There were two old men sitting out front, whiling away the hours, who kindly invited me to step forward and take a few photographs. I believe one of them can be seen in the video segment on this thorough post about the history of the house (in Chinese, of course).
I didn’t know any of this at the time, mind you. Most of the time I do my research after the fact, piecing things together from what I can puzzle out of tragicomically bad machine translations. Two more Chinese languages posts I referenced while writing this can be found here and here.
Had I known anything at all about Huang Sanyuan I would have immediately understood the meaning of the star-lined horizontal plaque (biǎn’é 匾額) over the entrance. As it was I recall being mystified—what’s the deal with the stars? Never seen that anywhere else. I assumed it had something to do with the vaguely western style of the house. Now it all makes sense!
If you’re interesting in paying this place a visit keep in mind that it is still a private residence. Here’s the address: 彰化縣埔心鄉二重村瑤鳳路三段436號.