Photo 1: An old photo of the German Consulate (provided by Wuhan Archive Bureau)
Photo 2: Current view of the former German Consulate
The former German Consulate is located on Yanjing Avenue in Hankou, a century-old building here in Wuhan.
Before the Germans built their consulate in Hankou in 1888, their consular affairs in Wuhan were handled by the British Consulate. At that time, there were very few Germans living in the city. In 1895, it was agreed that the German Concession would be established in the area bound by Yiyuan Road to the south, Liuhe Road to the north, the Yangtze River to the east, and Zhongshan Avenue to the west. Germany was the second country, after Britain, to build a concession in Wuhan.
The German Consulate set up an administrative office, one which was responsible for everyday administration. The consulate itself was the top government office in the concession. The consulate represented the German government and dealt with diplomatic affairs, as well as other important issues, in China.
In 1899, a dyke project with a 750-meter riverside roadway was constructed by the consulate. These were built to welcome the German fleet and Prince Henry of Prussia, to Wuhan.
The German Concession, blessed with a beautiful natural environment, was a good place to live. Around the premises of the consulate was a garden of exotic flowers and herbs, which, along with other garden settings, had been imported from Shanghai and Japan.
The consulate closed in 1945.
A two-in-one building for both offices and residences
The site of the former German Consulate is located at 130 Yanjiang Avenue; it is now a part of the premises of the Wuhan municipal government. This baroque structure was used by the Wuhan Foreign Affairs Office for quite some time, but now it is used as exhibition site to showcase the presents given by Wuhan's sister cities as well as Wuhan's development.
The construction of the consulate at the corner of Yanjiang Avenue and Yiyuan Road began in 1895. The project cost a total of 160,000 Goldmarks. This wood-and-brick structure covers a floor area of 3,202 square meters. There are two stories above ground and a basement area below ground.
The consulate had two functions, one as an office complex, and the other as a residential area for consular officials. The first floor consisted of offices, and the second floor residential facilities, which were used by the consul and his family. There is a separate entrance for the residential area. The gate for the entrance to the second floor connected to a carriage road, which faced the river. The gate for the entrance to the office area was on Yiyuan Road. In the back were the servants' quarters.
Although this structure is over a century old, the colors of the facade, both the milk-yellow of the cement stucco walls and the red of the flat tile roof, remain distinct. The square roof has four wooden spires at its four corners, each of which features fine German carvings. There is also an attic space. The attic has arched casements on each of its four sides; these invite the sunshine and add interesting details to the appearance of the building. This is unique to what is called the German mansard roof.
The main entrance, located at the center of the consulate, leads directly to a spacious hall. The most remarkable indoor features are located in the space between the second floor and the attic. The stone carvings on the ceiling, the glass ceiling above the wooden balustrade, and the stairs leading up into this space give the area a delightful, natural brightness.