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Haunted Shanghai: The phantoms of the Qiu mansion
In some Shanghai construction sites, there are worse things than health and safety code violations -- the ghosts of Shanghai past lurking around
Rumors concerning a haunted Shanghai demolition site on Weihai Lu near Shimen Yi Lu circulated all summer.
Li Fei, a night nurse at Yueyang Hospital, treated several construction workers for “bite wounds.” No wild animals were caught, and the men were too frightened to return to the site.
In August, local blogs reported that a mason attacked his manager with a hammer and he later claimed that “lizards” made him do it. In September, Mrs. Ye, who lives in the alley off Wujiang Lu near the construction site, swore that she spotted a dragon crawling along the arm of a construction crane.
On the Meadin.com forum, employees of the Four Seasons Hotel, located across from the construction site, complained they were afraid to work night shifts due to the fact they claimed they were being spooked by ghostly animals. The site's haunted Shanghai past has started to take its toll on local residents, but before you scoff at such a suggestion, read on.
The site’s storied past
If you peek behind the sky-blue vinyl barrier surrounding the zone, you can see an extravagant decaying castle looming over a sea of rubble. This is the Qiu mansion.
The Qiu brothers were migrant workers from Shandong who cast their lot and moved to Shanghai at the turn of the 20th century. In 1915 they came into a warehouse full of paint abandoned by their German employer who fled Shanghai during WWI. As the war raged, the ports closed, the price of paint skyrocketed, and the two peasants became millionaires.
Even among Shanghai’s nouveau riche and gangsters, few surpassed the Qius’ decadence. The brothers built identical mansions and surrounded their estate with a garden that would make Eden pale by comparison.
Burmese tigers prowled under magnolia tree groves, peacocks paraded on the verandas and crocodiles sunbathed by a man-made lake. Every day at noon, two thousand pigeons were said to have been released from a towering aviary, darkening the skies over the Country Club on Love Lane (now Wujiang Lu).
Then, at the peak of their mad notoriety, the Qiu brothers disappeared. No one knows where they went or has heard from them since.
Their animals were sold off or eaten by famished Shanghainese. Their gardens became a tangled wasteland.
One of the mansions was demolished in the 1950s. This year, the remaining Qiu mansion is being dug up and moved, foundation and all, to make room for more high-rise buildings.
Now the neighborhood seems to be haunted by ghostly reptiles. Has the excavation of one of the last haunted Shanghai mansions brought the ghosts of the Qiu brothers and the spirits of their exotic menagerie home for one final party?