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National Historic Site | Wufeng Lin Family Garden

  • Publish Date:2021-05-18
National Historic Site | Wufeng Lin Family Garden

Chinese Name: 霧峰林家宮保第園區
Established: 1895
Location: Taichung, Taiwan
Did You Know? The Lin family of the Taichung area of Wufeng was one of five major families in Taiwan during Japanese rule and made important contributions to society, education, and culture, earning them a reputation for being a true renaissance family. Since the middle of the 19th century, the Lin family has been among the most influential Taiwanese families. They were involved in affairs on both sides of the strait, helping pacify the Taiping Rebellion and the wake of the Tai Chao-chuen Incident (戴潮春事件), as well as being involved in the Sino-French War and having their own militia of thousands of fine men. On top of this, they also controlled a significant amount of agricultural land in central Taiwan and held the rights to selling camphor.

The Wufeng Lin Family Home Garden (峰林家宮保第園區) refers to a complex of gardens and housing in the Wufeng area of Taichung. It includes three parts—the lower house, upper house, and Laiyuan courtyard—and was the largest traditional residential housing complex in Taiwan, set out in a four-stage plan shaped like two concentric squares. The open area of the garden contains two buildings from the lower house, Gongbaodi and Dahua Hall.

The Wufeng Lin Family’s Gongbaodi is the only remaining Qing Dynasty official residence in Taiwan, having been home to Lin Wencha, who had been appointed head of the waterways. Since beginning construction in 1858, it has stood as iconic of a style of official residence from southern Fujian that was imported to Taiwan. Having led troops in battle against the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom in Zhangzhou, China, ultimately dying in Wansongguan, Lin was posthumously awarded the title of "Crown Prince's Young Protector" by imperial decree in 1864 and became known as Gongbaodi. The overall layout of the eponymous building is symmetrical, with a five-layer, 11-room layout. The first and second entrance halls were added by Lin Chaodong between 1870 and 1883, while the fourth and fifth were added later and completed in 1895.

The Lin Family Residence's Dahua Hall is the only one of its kind in Taiwan. Built for military meetings and public banquets, the hall was completed in 1894 and was a symbol of the Lin family’s prosperity at its height.

Another section of the lower house is the "grass huts," a traditional sanheyuan complex with a granary, a gatehouse, and a large garden outside. It was constructed around 1837 and was an important part of the living space for the Wufeng Lin family in its earlier days.

The Laiyuan courtyard, which is now the campus of Taichung's Mingtai High School, is home to several structures and landscaped gardens built by the Lin family by 1875. In 1893, after passing the imperial examination, Lin Wenqin built a large-scale garden for his mother to enjoy her old age to show his gratitude for her hard work in raising him. He named it "Laiyuan," the garden of Lai, after the traditional moral tale about Old Master Lai, who delighted his aging parents with colorful and fanciful entertainments in their twilight years. The garden has an indelible place in architectural history in Taiwan, with its beautiful scenery and many historical monuments, including the Wugui Building, the Pavilion of the Drunken Moon, a bronze statue of Lin Wenqian, the Iron Cannon Monument, and the collection of cultural relics and items that belonged to Japanese-era Taiwanese politician Lin Hsien-tang. The great literary figure of the late Qing Dynasty, Liang Qichao, helped the Lin Family Residence become even more well-known for his visits to this place.

From its distinctive original southern Fujian architectural style to the southern Chinese-style gardens and Western architecture introduced by Lin Hsien-tang in the 1930s, to the modern architectural art that has been added in recent years, the Laiyuan courtyard can be considered a microcosm of over a century of Taiwanese architectural history.

After an earthquake registering a magnitude of 7.3 struck Taiwan on September 21, 1999, the complex was almost completely destroyed. The Taichung City Government Cultural Affairs Bureau secured funding from the central and city governments for restoration work, and after careful examination, the work began in 2006. The complex was restored with reference to 3D simulations and old photographs, and after initial work was completed in 2010, it was open by appointment for cultural and historical workers and organizations. Work continued until 2014, when it was finally opened to public visits by online appointment.

The Wufeng Lin Family Garden is operated by Wufenglins Company, a joint venture of the lower house branch of the family, which provides detailed guide services to complement the government’s cultural policy, aiming to promote the reemergence of Wufeng through art and culture and drive tourism development in the area.