TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Once known as one of the top 10 most haunted places in Taiwan, a heritage building site in Keelung was recently converted into a historical photo exhibition venue that only let in 10 visitors per hour during the show.
The photo exhibit "Light Up Keelung Harbor, Revive Old Heritage Buildings" took place in the legendary 80-year-old house and attracted a long queue outside the building every day between June 10 and 19, while many others were hoping for canceled reservations.
The visitor cap was set mainly for the safety of the building and visitors, given its limited floor space. All slots were fully booked soon after the reservations opened on June 9.
Local historian Wu Sheng-hong (吳盛宏) debunked claims of paranormal activity in the building, saying the rumor of a fire set by a bar girl taunted by an American soldier some 50 years ago was wrong, UDN reported.
Wu said the Baroque-style building was built in 1931 by mining entrepreneur Lin Kai-chun (林開郡) and is located at an intersection in the busiest part of Keelung City. It was once a residence of the country's first western-style painter, Ni Chiang-huai (倪蔣懷), and was later leased as a bar. The bar had to shut down not because of the rumored fire, but due to a nearby building burning down decades ago, Wu told UDN.
"The building had been deserted for a long time due to complicated estate inheritance issues and was once occupied by groups of homeless people. That explained why noises were sometimes heard and faint lights were occasionally spotted from outside."
Another interesting fact about the three-story building, Wu said, is that it was featured in a 1966 American epic war film "The Sand Pebbles," and could be seen on the movie's posters.
The historic building restoration and the exhibit were made possible under the leadership of Keelung Mayor Lin Yu-chang (林右昌), who began to approach the owner at the beginning of his term. The city government said it took the team three years to unravel the mystery of the building, which features the most advanced construction techniques at that time with many delicate and artistic elements that are worth seeing.