Shanghai Architecture Tour: the Shanghai Community Church

Located at No. 53 Hengshan Road, the Shanghai Community Church is a famous Protestant church in Shanghai. With neither luxurious appearance nor large size, the Community Church impresses people mostly by its simplicity and proportion.

Shanghai Community Church

It is a little bit like the magnified country houses in Britain and US and does not even have a turret. The roof of X-shape wooden truss is steep and covered with masonry tiles. It takes only a few sketches to draw the outline of the red-brick rectangular hall under the saddle-shaped wooden roof truss.

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The sloping roof viewed from outside turns out to be an arch dome when viewed from inside. The two sides of the hall are supported by pointed arches with two levels of balcony seats on each side. In the middle south section of the hall is the dais, also with pointed arches supported to the roof, which is a typical Gothic style. Yet the dome is neither high nor steep, but plain and mild. In addition, the complicated arch decorations of the Gothic style are also simplified, close to the simple style of modern American architecture.

Interior of the Shanghai Community Church

The floor of the walkway outside the church is covered with gray terrazzo, while the floor inside the church is fine wooden floor, matching the orange wall and brown wainscoting, presenting a tone of intimacy and warmth. The chairs are also wooden, with a small stand on the back to place the Bible. Sitting on the chair, with gold rays penetrating three narrow windows of orange plum pattern, you will be inspired to reflection. Even in the absence of decorations such as statues or frescos, the church still looks ravishing.

The Community Church offers both Chinese and English masses. Every Sunday there are many people coming to the service in the church. When the number of worshippers is too large for the church, people will sit on the edge of the lawn. The building to which ivy clings all year around bears a feeling of benevolence and tranquility. In the summer, ivy climbs from the wall to the tiles on the roof, making the church look like a green house in the fairy tales.

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Story about the Shanghai Community Church

After the opening of Shanghai, Christian activities were extensive and active. However, for foreign worshipers, lacking a place of worship was a problem. Around 1917, some Americans in shanghai spontaneously gathered at the home of an American couple. They organized a small choir and worshipped regularly. In 1920, the number of the faithful attending service reached over 100. The private residence was undoubtedly too small. Therefore, in 1920, the choir collected a donation from the faithful and built a small church on Route Doumer, which is the site of today’s Donghu Cinema.

After the completion of the church, more people asked to join in, so much so that the small church could not satisfy the large number of worshippers. In 1923, aided by Shanghai American School, the church bought a piece of land on Avenue Petain (today’s No. 53 Hengshan Road). In 1925, the new church was built, named “Union Church” then.

Maybe because the church started from a choir, the sacred music played in the Community Church always excels that in other churches. During the time before 1980s, many children who loved music had the experience of sneaking into the church to listen to the melodious sacred music. The choir of the Community Church was restored in 1989 and from then on, many non-believers will be summoned by music to the church when there are religious activities.

Travel Tips:

Strolling on Hengshan Road where the Shanghai Community Church is situated is definitely a great joy. If you would like to stroll around, Gao’an Road and Yongjia Road are highly recommended. There are many restaurants and bars close by.

“Dian Shi Zhai” is a restaurant opened in an old villa, which specializes in authentic local dishes. Braised River Carp with Scallion and Braised Pork with Eggs, etc. are its brand dishes.

Ke Tang Jian Boutique Hotel is located on No. 335. With seven guestrooms of Art Deco style, the furniture there mainly features antiques. The restaurant on the ground floor serves innovative Thai dishes, of which the curry dishes are the most authentic.

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