Dàodōng Academy 道東書院 is one of many Qing dynasty era academies scattered across central and southern Taiwan 台灣. Located in Hemei 和美 in Changhua 彰化, it was built in 1857, the 7th year of the Xianfeng Emperor 咸豐帝 (清咸豐七年), and operated as a private school devoted to classic Chinese literature, philosophy, and ethics, among other subjects. Commonly known to locals as Wéncí 文祠 or Wénmiào 文廟, or “temple of literature”, the academy also venerates Song dynasty scholar Zhū Xī 朱熹 and Kuí Xīng 奎星, the god of examinations.
I went out riding through Hemei 和美 not so long ago, drawn by the allure of a mysterious building that I will write about sometime soon. On the return trip I noticed this old home peeking out of the woods at the side of Zhāngxīn Road 彰新路, better known as highway 139. I don’t stop every time I see the signs of abandonment—for I would never get anywhere at all in rural Taiwan if I did so—but this place seemed worth a look. After pushing through the overgrowth I was impressed by the classical beauty of the stonework and inscriptions on the outside of the building.