Type: Site of Rewi and George Hogg’s home and original school
Location: Hillside near central Fengxian (used to be called Shuangshipu), at the top of Aili Road.
GPS co-ordinates: N33 55.041 E106 31.210
Google Earth view of the location:
Cost: No cost to view
Access: Buildings can be viewed from outside at all times. The interiors are likely to be unlocked during daytime hours.
These houses were where Rewi Alley lived when he set up his first Bailie school in 1938. George Hogg was the headmaster here. In 1944, when political conditions changed, the school was moved to Shandan, Gansu province (where it became known as ‘Shandan Bailie School‘). They are now part of an exhibition of Rewi Alley’s home as well as various aspects of his life, including the work he did in the area and, indeed, in China, mainly setting up ‘Gung Ho’ co-operatives.
The exhibit is entered through an arch near the top of Aili Road. It comprises extensive information (displayed in Chinese} on Rewi Alley and Gung Ho. The walkway up to the hillside in which are the cave houses features many large displays of photographs and information panels on various aspects of Rewi’s life.
At the top of the walkway the restored cave houses are seen, dug into the hillside [Editor’s note: into loess]. They would have the comfort of fairly constant temperature year-round. There are bedrooms, office, other rooms, linked by internal tunnels. Period furniture used by Rewi is displayed, as are posters, large portraits, and more information in Chinese.
Local Travel Agents have a two-page information sheet on Rewi Alley for the tourists that view the cave-houses. Currently (in 2016) almost all tourists to Fengxian are Chinese-speakers.
This article is based on a report by Jane Furkert of her work: ‘An Independent Travellers’ Guide to Rewi Alley Locations in China, 2016’, that was funded by the Rewi Alley Friendship and Exchange (RAFE) Fund.