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Shanghai Peace Hotel, Previously Cathay Hotel

As a landmark of foreign-style architecture on the Bund, Cathay Hotel or Sassoon House, now North Building of Peace Hotel, is situated at No.20 East Zhongshan Road Number One in Huangpu District.

The hotel was taken over by Baring Brothers & Co. in 1875 and transferred to E.D. Sassoon & Co. in 1877. Reconstruction of the property began in 1927 and completed in September 1929.

The building was designed by Palmer & Turner Architects and Surveyors and built by Jen Kee Construction Co. It had 13 floors and stood 77 meters in height, occupying a floor area of 4,617 square meters with a building area of 36,317 square meters. It was of reinforced concrete structure and built in modernist style. The facade was simple and delicate, assuming a flat “A” in shape and featuring extensive use of straight lines in the exterior with flower patterns only at the pediments and eaves.

Below the eighth floor, the building was faced with tiles of granite while the ninth floor and the roof were surfaced with top-grade terracotta. The pyramidal roof, the symbol of the building, was ten meters high and covered with copper sheet that turned dark green. After its completion, the building mainly served as the office building of E.D Sassoon & Co. as well as Cathay Hotel. On the fifth and sixth floors were guestrooms furnished in Chinese, Indian, British, American, French, Italian, German and Spanish styles.

On the seventh, eighth, and ninth floors were Chinese restaurants, saloons, ballrooms, nightclubs and other facilities. On the tenth floor were Victor Sasoon’s private apartments. Inside the pyramid roof was the grand dining hall, the highest at the time in Shanghai.

The hotel hosted many statesmen, franchisers, and other celebrities from various countries including Charles Chaplin, George Bernard Shaw, General Albert Wedemeyer, General George Marshall, Leighton Stuart, Edgar Snow, and so on. It was no where Noel Coward finished his famous comedy Private Lives.

In 1950, the Municipal Finance and Economy Committee was set up here. In 1952, the building was taken over by the People’s Government and was renamed Peace Hotel in March 1956. It was well known for its European style and jazz music, and every night a jazz band composed of elderly players performed classical jazz tunes in vogue during the 1930s and 1940s.

In April 2007, 500 million yuan was invested for renovation of the hotel.