The establishment of Chongqing Customs on the 1st of March 1891 marked the opening of the city as a commercial port. The south bank of the Yangtze River became the preferred place for the British, French, German, Japanese and American businessmen and foreign service personnel. They built wharves and warehouses and opened foreign firms, companies, and factories on Mishi Street. Today, history still ring some bells when you wander around it.
Mishi Street was the cradle of industrial and commercial trade in Chongqing. The mix of Chinese and Western cultures there catalyzed the construction of a host of buildings, in both East and West styles. The houses were built along the slope, with the neighborhoods varying in height, creating a staggered street space and a mountainous architectural landscape.
Deep in the Menchao Street on the rocky cliffs of the Clearwater Creek at Dongjiaqiao is a house in the Spanish architectural style. The two-storey building features grey bricks and black tiles with an attic above. Not only has it a Chinese silo style but it has a Western-style large arch, with large casement windows with elaborate wood carvings, oozing a vibe of of Western-style towers and Chinese attic shapes. This is the former site of the office of the foreign firm in Chongqing, which was opened by the British merchant Barry and the commodity broker Gu Xueyuan in partnership during this period.
The building was ingeniously designed to take advantage of the complex terrain, with the foundation of the house using the original rocky cliffs of the Clearwater Creek and the rest of the house being built on the west side. To facilitate travel, a wooden bridge was built over the Clearwater Creek, across which is the Wang'er Building, and further reaching out to Zaoziwan, an old wharf.
At that time, Barry & Co., B. M. was mainly engaged in the export of forest goods and processed bristles. From 1911 to 1913, it monopolized the export of bristles and cow and sheep skins in Chongqing. In 1913, the firm forayed into import business by opening a specialty shop for imported goods, selling British cotton and wool fabrics, foreign wine, and canned goods, among other commodities. Barry appointed Huang Yunjie as his broker to further expand the firm's business.
The building has been proclaimed an outstanding historical building in Chongqing. Over the years, the creation of the Historical and Cultural Blocks of Mishi Street has added a new allure to the building once again, reproducing the look and style of Chongqing during the opening of the port.
文字/杨艳 图片/南岸区文旅委 文管所提供