Hsin Kang Theater 新港戲院 is located in the small town of Xingang 新港, Chiayi 嘉義, not far from the famous Fengtian Temple 奉天宮. Multiple sources agree it went out of business in 1988—a victim of shifting consumer preferences and demographic changes in small town Taiwan—but the actual age of the building is somewhat uncertain. This academic reference suggests it was founded in 1929, in the midst of the Japanese colonial era, but the theater was almost certainly renovated or completely rebuilt in the post-war period.
Recently I added yet another theater to my growing catalogue of old school cinemas in Taiwan: the derelict Dong’an Grand Theater 東安大戲院 in East Tainan. This theater opened in 1969 and closed its doors not long after the turn of the millennium, another victim of changing consumer habits. I wasn’t able to find a way inside this theater so this post only features a handful of exterior shots and some links I chanced upon after conducting preliminary research.
Fenyuan Town Hall 芬園庄役場 is another example of neglected Japanese colonial era architecture in Taiwan. Built in 1935, this modest building was the administrative center of the village of Fenyuan 芬園, located on the eastern edge of Changhua 彰化 back when it was part of Taichu Prefecture 臺中州. It survived the war and remained in use until 1994 when a newer town hall was built down the street. Art Deco flourishes and the rust-colored emblem over the entrance give Fenyuan’s old town hall a distinctive look. Nowadays it is derelict—but it seems likely that it will be restored and opened to the public some day.
Beidou 北斗 is home to the historic Yuandong Theater 遠東戲院 (literally “Far East Theater”, a common name), originally built in 1955. Like most vintage theaters in Taiwan it struggled through the home video era and eventually shut down in the late 1990s. Unlike many other cinemas of its generation it does not appear to have been subdivided into smaller theaters prior to going out of business. It was, however, converted for use as a karaoke bar or gambling den at some point, judging by what I observed on a recent visit. As of 2015 the interior is used for nothing more than storage, particularly for a restaurant that has since colonized the area adjacent to the former ticket booth and entrance.
Donggong Theater 東宮戲院 is located in Dongshi, a Hakka majority township in mountainous central Taichung 台中. Dongshi (or Tungshih in the older Wade–Giles Romanization system) is the gateway to the densely forested interior and was a major center of the lumber industry in Taiwan prior to its decline in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Disaster struck in 1999 with the devastating 921 Earthquake. Dongshi was among the worst hit; over 300 people lost their lives and hundreds of buildings collapsed—but not this grand old theater.
Huaguo Theater 華國戲院 is one of hundreds of abandoned theaters scattered around Taiwan. Located in Puli 埔里, a town of approximately 80,000 in the heart of Nantou 南投, this particular theater was likely built in the late 1950s. From what I’ve read in this post by Wang Henglu 王亨祿, this theater was operated by a couple with the family name Zhou 周 and specialized in showing Western films on a single screen before its inevitable demise.
Taichung First Credit Union 台中第一信用合作社 is a post-war bank located in Central Taichung. According to this blog it was abandoned in 2001. Last week I went to go take a quick look while surveying the many historic buildings in the area. There were construction workers setting up in front and there were no other points of entry so I did not gain access. Even so, from a quick look inside the place appears to have been cleared out—and they might even be preparing to renovate the building for one reason or another.
Having just shared a photo from an abandoned Sogo department store in Zhongli 中壢 I can’t resist also posting about the Gogo Mall building I found in Yonghe 永和 about a month ago. I was there in search of an entrance to the abandoned Miramar Theater 美麗華戲院, one of many abandoned theaters in Yonghe, but all entrances were sealed. Initially I visited at night and assumed it was a derelict building but on my second visit I saw signs of renovation through an open window. Perhaps some effort is being undertaken to redevelop the place.
One of my idle pursuits this mild winter has involved documenting all the obscure and unusual stuff I find in my travels around Changhua 彰化. When I go riding I prefer to take winding roads that twist and turn through old villages rather than the newer thoroughfares that directly connect communities in the countryside. Sometimes this pays off—for instance, while exploring some of the side roads on my way to Lukang 鹿港 I found this strange looking building amid the rice fields and rural industrial sprawl.