I note the recent restoration of the St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in
The former St Nicholas Russian Orthodox church on Gaolan Road (formerly Rue Corneille), originally completed in 1934 I think, was a pretty average but rather pleasant (ambience wise) restaurants in the 1990s and into the early 2000s called Ashanti Dome which served undistinguished Italian and/or French food after a fashion (i.e. nothing too memorable). There was also for a while a Spanish tapas restaurant called Boca on the ground floor for a while but the less said about that the better I think. Of course you went there for the architecture not some knocked up Eurotrash food however good or bad.
The only real reason for eating there when it was a restaurant was the drawings inside which were interesting though poorly preserved when I last saw them around 2002. The management used to say that they had been vandalised by the communists when a visiting delegation of Russians had been taken there at some point and all the tits painted over to spare anyone’s blushes – though it’s hard to imagine a Russian being blushing at the sight of a pair of breasts, the Chinese Communist Party could give the Plymouth Brethren a run in the prudery stakes.
It then shut for a while and during 2008 was the scene of feverish refurbishment. Before I knew it as a so-so restaurant it had had a number of former incarnations during the more surly communist period as a washing machine factory among other things. Apparently the Red Guards wanted to demolish it but concerned locals who rather liked their Church hung a picture of Chairman Mao on the outside and they left it alone. I note that the refurbishment seems to have been completed and certainly the old place looks the better for a lick of paint. What it is to become I have no idea - runmour says it's been restored as a church though how many practicing Russian Orthodox God Botherers there are in Shanghai I have no idea.
St Nicholas’s was one of several Orthodox churches in Shanghai – some are gone beneath the relentless bulldozers of course, a couple remain including St Nicholas and the Russian Mission Orthodox church on the corner of Xinle and Xiang Yang Roads (left, around the time of completion in the mid-1930s) that was completed about 1934-36 and throughout most of the 1990s was an early stock trading centre before becoming a restaurant and nightclub briefly, a venture that swiftly failed.
Whatever St Nicholas's becomes it's nice to have it back in seemingly decent shape - I'll try and get a look inside to see how well that went - regularShanghai architecture fans will know that while facades get preserved more these days in Shanghai the insides invariably get ripped out, so we'll see.