Block-23, as it was in 1900
Calvin Mateer (1836-1908) and his wife Julia commenced
a Boys' School in Tengchow, not far from Weihsien, in 1864. This grew
and in 1898 it was extended to college level, and was in fact the first
Christian college in China.
Meanwhile a church was commenced in Weihsien, a strategic city equidistant
between Chefoo and Tsinan. Services were initially held in a rented
room near the city. The work grew, and a church was built in Weihsien
inside a compound which also soon had two High Schools, 2 hospitals
and 7 missionary homes.
In 1900 the Boxers attacked the American Presbyterian compound, and
destroyed all the above mentioned buildings, the missionaries having
escaped to the coast. In 1904 the compound was rebuilt on a larger scale.
The fast growing Tengchow College was transferred to Weihsien and larger
premises were built for it.
Soon afterwards the College was transferred to Tsinan and became Cheloo
The Weihsien compound now served as a Bible School, where young couples
came for periods of training. It consisted of an octagonal church (the
Mateer Memorial - later used in the camp for many purposes), many blocks
of rooms for student accommodation (later used in the camp for families),
houses for missionaries, teachers and doctors (later used by the Japanese
officers) and a larger hospital (the Sunnyside Hospital named after
a church in the USA which had financed it, and where the Chefoo School
children later lived).
During the period 1938 to 1942 the property was looted by Chinese bandits,
then occupied by the Japanese, then by a rival Chinese army. With each
occupation there was further deterioration. When the first batch of
internees arrived in March 43 they had much cleaning up and repairing
Four years after Liberation in 1945 the Communist government took control,
and one half of the former camp including the hospital and its surroundings
were used for medical purposes, and the other half became a Middle School.
First in China College,” an article by Moses Chu, [click