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The ‘mysterious butterfly’: the past and present of Butterfly Building
Author:WHU WeChat Account  Date:2022-11-17  Clicks:

Walking alongside the path from the lakeside to Tuan Mountain, you will see a red brick building half-hidden behind green leaves. Thanks to its elegant butterfly-shaped construction, it has a beautiful name—‘Butterfly Palace’, now more commonly known as ‘Butterfly Building’. With a history of nearly a century, Butterfly Building used to be the cradle of many successful alumnae and now serves as a bridge connecting diverse cultures.


Butterfly Building today

The initial construction plan of Butterfly Building accompanied the expansion of the female student population of WHU in the early 1920 resulting from its growing reputation.

Butterfly Building in the 1930s

The building was completed in 1932. With a circular arch in its main entrance, Butterfly Building has a simple but unique facade. With a blend of eastern and western architectural styles, it has become one of the most representative buildings at Wuhan University ever since. Together with the Old Dorm (also known as Cherry Blossom Castle, the dormitory building for male students), it has borne witness to the eventful life on Luojia Hill.


Pictures of female students and the former Butterfly Building, with remarks meaning These girls’ dorm is tidy indeed!

Besides its appearance, what also makes Butterfly Building an icon is its history. During the 1930-40s, female students spent their college time here, eventually becoming symbols of upright power raised from the flames and smoke of war. One of them was Zhong Qirong, the founder of Hong Kong Shue Yan University and the winner of the 2007 Touching China Awards. She graduated from the Law School of WHU and also achieved first place in the Judicial Officer Examination that year, which laid a solid foundation for her career. Another respectable woman that once dwelled at Butterfly Building was Zhou Rusong, a physicist and outstanding educator. Just like her father Zhou Gengsheng, she devoted her life to academic research at WHU and is honored as a backbone force in the School of Physics and the field of metal physics.

Zhong Qirong (left) and Zhou Rusong (right)

After witnessing all the brilliant achievements, Butterfly Building is changing with the times.

In the 1990s, in order to accommodate teachers, Butterfly Building was renovated and enlarged. In 2015, another round of major renovations was carried out. The interior decoration, the facade, and the roof, as well as the power and water supply system, fire alarm system, network system, and drainage system, were all upgraded to the current version.

Interior decoration of Butterfly Building after the renovation

Combining traditional Chinese architectural features with modern living facilities, Butterfly Building is now a comfortable residence for foreign experts who get a taste of WHU’s culture and history here. “I loved it at first sight. It is modest and elegant, simple in design but rich for appreciation,” said Celia, a teacher in the Spanish Department at WHU’s School of Foreign Language and Literature (FLL). She added, “Different colors bring out the best of each other in Butterfly Building, such as the white of the walls, the red of the windows and door frames, and the gold of the doorknobs. I love this combination.”

Doorknob in Butterfly Building

Not only Celia but also many other foreign teachers expressed their surprise when first seeing Butterfly Building. “I think this is a building with a profound history,” said Romain Debar, a teacher in the French Department in FLL.

These excited residents are also amazed at its convenient facilities. “We can enjoy a one-bedroom apartment, which means we have our own living room, bedroom, kitchen and lavatory. My room is equipped with a television, air conditioner, and refrigerator, which is great!” said Ruka, a Japanese teacher in FLL.

Modern facilities in Butterfly Building

Life at Butterfly Building as a whole is tranquil and relaxing, according to these teachers. Both Celia and Romain Debar enjoy lush trees outside their home. “I feel happy and satisfied every time I look out of my window,” said Celia. Other teachers turn Butterfly Building into a place where they can practice their hobbies. “I sing once in a while and I’ve also heard other teachers play instruments,” said Ruka.“Everyone loves it here.”

Butterfly Building

Once home to famous female scholars and now a bridge connecting foreign teachers to Chinese culture, the story of Butterfly Building will continue with the development of Wuhan University. History and stories flow smoothly in the shadows of trees and in the red bricks and white walls. The secrets hide in the rustle of the branches, waiting for curious visitors to be discovered.

Rewritten by Wang Yihan

Edited by Li Jing,

Edited by Su xinyue, Sylvia, Xi Bingqing


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