A few months ago I wrote a blog titled “Taipei’s Mansions” which had photos from two of Northern Taiwan’s most famous historical and well-preserved mansions. When I posted the blog, I had expected an obvious question and a few friends didn't disappoint as they enquired why I hadn't included the Lin An Tai Historical House and Museum (林安泰古厝) with the other two.
The reason was simple, the other mansions are just as well-preserved as the Lin Mansion, but they are still in their original locations which I felt was the most important factor in their authenticity. Apart from that, the Lin mansion is much more popular with tour groups as well as photographers that I felt it didn't really need to be included.
I felt that photos from this place were already quite overdone and cliché as it is so popular for photoshoots for people who want that “Asian” feeling but aren't willing to leave the confines of the Taipei MRT system. Whenever you show up, you will always run into some models in traditional clothing walking around the grounds with a bunch of photographers following behind them. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but personally I prefer to use locations in areas less travelled and less overdone if I'm doing that kind of thing.
I kept the Lin An Tai mansion in mind though as I know that photographically speaking, it is a pretty cool place with nice scenery and eventually introducing the grounds would fulfill the request from my friends to have all of Taipei’s traditional mansions covered. So here we are!
As mentioned above, due to the expansion of some of Taipei’s major roads, the Lin An Tai mansion in its original location was faced with either destruction or relocation. By the 1970s the mansion had fallen into a bit of disarray and like most mansions of this sort, the original inhabitants had already vacated the premises for modern housing. The mansion wasn't being taken care of in the way it should have been and it has started to fall apart.
Taipei is a city that tends to have little regard for tearing down the ‘old’ to make way for the ‘new’ but historians and civic activists argued that the mansion should be preserved and moved from its original location in Wanhua district (萬華區) to a new location.
The city government agreed and started a massive relocation and renewal project moving the mansion across the city to the Binjiang park (濱江公園) which was large enough to house a home of its size and historical importance. The relocation project started in 1978 and lasted until 2000 when it was finally opened to the public.
The house was originally built by Mr. Lin an immigrant from Fujian Provinces Anxi County who moved to Taiwan and operated a successful business here.
The name of the mansion is interesting as it is named in part after the family, Anxi province and the name of the company the family owned. Today we have the Lin An Tai Mansion (林安泰古厝) which uses the characters “Lin” (林) the family’s surname, “An” (安) after Anxi County (安溪縣) in Fujian Province (福建省) and “Tai” (泰) after name of their successful company (榮泰行)
I won't go into detail too much about the design of the mansion (My friend Carrie explains in much more detail and much better than I could) but what I will say is that the house was originally designed with Feng Shui (風水) being the most important factor in its construction.
Since the mansion has moved from its original location, things have changed according to Feng Shui, but the ‘natural’ elements of a home still remain which means you will still find courtyards filled with nature, a pond filled with lotus blossoms and several shaded rest areas where the owners can enjoy the natural environment from the comfort of their home.
Feng Shui stresses a relationship with the natural environment in order to create more positive energy and even though the mansion has moved from its original location, you still get a pretty positive vibe from hanging out at the mansion.
The mansion is situated a short walk from the Yuanshan MRT station (圓山捷運站) and if you are visiting Taipei, I recommend spending a bit of time in the area as it has this mansion, the Flora Expo park and Taipei’s Confucius Temple (台北孔廟) and Bao-An Temple (保安宮) all within a short distance of one another and can be covered over a few hours in the afternoon before moving on to Shilin Nightmarket (士林夜市) in the evening.
The Lin Tai An Mansion is definitely worth a visit and if you are only in Taipei for a short time and want to visit a place that seems more “Asian” than what you'll find elsewhere in a modern city like Taipei - you'll be pleased with this place as it is a really well preserved monument to a time that Taipei city has more or less forgotten!