Baroque mansion in the Taiwanese countryside. This mansion is as out of place as the ghost still remaining inside.
On the serene countryside of Taiwan, amidst rice fields and forest, a mansion is left abandoned between the Banyan trees that have soon claimed the mansion as its own. The majestic red brick building must have been beautiful when first built, but now, it only holds the mysterious charm that old ruins have with its secrets and signs of the passing of time.
The Baroque styled house, also known as the old Lui Familly Mansion (劉家古宅民雄鬼屋) is located in Chiayi, southwestern Taiwan. It’s a hot and humid climate, but the story surrounding this house is a chilling one. It is an eerie place, so forlorn, but famous as it is considered Taiwan’s most famous haunted place. A fact especially seen during ghost month were visitors flock to the site to catch a glimt of something paranormal going on in the quiet countryside.
A lot of factors have contributed to its rumour of being haunted. Firstly, It’s located along a road with a graveyard close on either side. This has made drivers vary about driving pass for a long time. And according to one of the legends, the one who built it, placed some sort of a charm or spell in the house in secret, making everyone living there hear strange noises, footsteps and unexplainable sounds.
The three storey house was built in 1929 by Liu Rongyu (劉溶裕), a local businessman and landowner. The baroque architecture the house was built in was very in style with the wealthy merchants in Taiwan at that time. He had seven children and wanted somewhere peaceful and quiet to enjoy the countryside and the grandchildren that would follow. But not long after the building was complete, the mansion was completely abandoned, and the owners never came back in the 1950s.
The Maid in the Well
Local legends have a lot to say about the reasons the family left. Was it just because of the location? The building was so far from everything and an inconvenient place to commute back and forth from work that maybe the family would rather relocate to the city? Or is it something about the story that has been told about the maid?
In the surrounding garden from the house there is a shut well that no longer is filled with water. And from this particular well, the legends of this house seeps through the crack of the dried up well.
It is said she had an affair with the man of the house. When the story came out, she ended up jumping to her death in the well that can be found on the premise. Some versions of the story tell that the wife found out about the affair and tormented the maid, both mentally and in some accounts even physically, until she couldn’t take it anymore and ended her life. But the story didn’t end however, and the maid came back for revenge. As a spirit she returned to torment the family who had tormented her. Every night her ghost terrorized the family until they packed up their things and left.
In the following years the visitors coming at night to the abandoned building were also haunted. And so many have been rumoured to be struck by bad luck or even illness, taking their life as the vengeful ghost still haunts the grounds. Especially the soldiers of more than one army have been allegedly chased away by the ghost.
The Japanese Army Massacre
The story of the maid has been several times said to be nothing but gossip and false lies. But the following strange happenings after the family left the place helps keep the story of the alleged curse of the house.
During the time the house was built and the family lived there, the island of Taiwan was under Japanese rule (1895-1945). During this time business flourished after the Japanese built up the city of Chiayi after a devastating earthquake in 1906. At the time, this was the fourth biggest city in all of Taiwan. Perhaps that was not the case after the Japanese left, could that be some of the reasons that the Liu family eventually left the Chiayi countryside? The more rational explanation would perhaps be that the Liu family simply relocated themselves for business reasons by moving downtown in Chiayi City, something that the family itself have expressed on multiple occasions.
But there also has been stories about the army opening gunfire for no apparent reason when the Japanese army temporarily stayed there, ending in killing innocent soldiers in the crossfires. Verified or not, several holes in the walls from gunfire can be seen still to this day, making one wonder who and why they were fired.
The Strange Deaths of KMT Soldiers
A few years later the mansion was occupied by the KMT (Kuomintang of China) the Chinese nationalist party of Taiwan, which in fact is officially known as Republic of China (ROC) came into power in 1949. By this time, parts of the house had already been damaged during bomb raids by the American army during the second world war and the interior of the house had been stripped away to build the nearby schools.
Some soldiers were stationed at the house in 1949. At this time there was no electricity and the mansion and the grounds around were completely left in darkness during night time. There were complaints from the soldiers about seeing a ghost floating outside their window, demanding they had to put up electricity to fight the darkness they thought surrounded them in the house.
Here, a string of deaths, either that the soldiers residing there got sick and died or on other accounts, thought to be suicides, made the mansion get a reputation as haunted. But also here, we have counter intelligence that tells the tragic story of soldiers suffering from homesickness to their mainland China that in turn drove them to kill themselves on this foreign land.
Every year, especially in the seventh month of the lunar calendar, or Ghost Month , the mansion gets plenty of visitors. The floors of the house have long collapsed, and the red bricked walls started to crumble. Any plans to restore the house have long been rejected by the Liu family. The house will soon be taken by the forest and swallowed whole, unable to reveal the truth of what actually happened at the manor.
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