Möller Villa, or Moller Villa as he changed his name has a very fascinating story..
The old magical castle used to belong to the swedish shipping magnate Eric Möller and was ready in 1936. The Möllers were originally from Helsingborg in southern Sweden. Eric Möller was the son of the wealthy businessman Captain Nils Moller who sailed his brig ‘Osaka’ from Sweden.
After a legal argument with the Swedish and Norwegian Consulates concerning flags of convenience, Captain Nils declared himself a citizen of Shanghai.
He later removed the umlaut from his Swedish family name of ‘Moller‘.
He had two further families in Shanghai (with Alethea Stephenson and Hannah Clappison). The business grew and expanded into eight cities in China, and although the Mollers left Shanghai in 1950, their companies continued operating in Hong Kong into the 1990s. The family business was shipping and shipbuilding, and in Shanghai, the Moller portfolio included shipping lines, insurance, real estate and investment. In 1913, Eric Moller took over the family business and prospered. He had a steamboat that ran between Shanghai and Zhenjiang in Jiangsu Province, and, in the mid-1920s, decided to embark on the construction of a house for his big family – six children. The combination of a distinctly Scandinavian style with architectural references to ships throughout the house hints that Möller ( Moller) was probably heavily involved in the design. Eric Moller was a big horseracing fan, and the chair of the Shanghai Horse Racing Club. There is a picture at the wall of the hotel of him and Prince Charles at a race.
During the Pacific War, the house was occupied by the Japanese. Later, it housed a Kuomintang espionage agency. The Möllers left Shanghai in 1950, soon after the communists came to power. Eric Möller died in a plane crash 1954 in Singapore, when his daughter was waiting for him. His son’s Eric JR and Ralph took over the business after he died. They also owned a stud farm, White Lodge Stud, in Newmarket in England. For more than half a century, the Moller Mansion served as the headquarters of the Communist Youth League Shanghai Branch. In 1989, the Villa was listed as one of Shanghai’s protected historical buildings. In 2001, the local Hengshan Group took it over and restored the original mansion, added several garish imitation buildings in the back, and reopened it all as a hotel in May 2002. And I stayed at the hotel, Wich was a bit exciting. I had a beautiful room, but a very poor breakfast. I have been to many happenings in the villa. And I had a very interesting evening with the architectural historian Tess Johnston in the villa. Just after the reopening. 2006, the hotel was “closed for repairs” while in fact it was being used as the headquarters of a corruption investigation into Shanghai’s top official, Party Secretary Chen Liangyu. The villa hotel did not reopen to guests until April 2009.
At the hotel nowadays it says that Eric Moller was British, but he originally came from southern Sweden. And my gran was married to a Moller from southern Sweden, are they related by any chance? And my granddad traveled to Shanghai when he was young.. And I lived there twice.. It’s under my skin…
Möller and his employees in 1947
Av ©Malin Nordblom