Gezhi is an abbreviation of Ge Wu Zhi Zhi (meaning to know is to investigate ), which gave the name of the Gezhi Hall of St. John’s University. On November 20, 1898, a groundbreaking ceremony of the Gezhi Hall held, and on July 19, 1899, the new building was put into use. At that time, among all the colleges and universities in China, the Gezhi Hall was the first building that was used specifically for teaching natural science, and that’s why it was also known as the Science Hall.


The three-storey Gezhi Hall adopted a brick-and-timber structure. The wall on the west side is similar to that of the Taofen Building, and the south facade was castle-like, adding to an antique taste. There used to be a man-powered lift inside. The building took over a typical Chinese roof with upturned eaves. The ground floor was a public corridor with long floor-to-ceiling windows, while the first and second floors were fully enclosed with arched glass windows. The second floor was U-shaped, with a glass skylight in the middle to allow natural sunlight in.


In 2018, East China University of Political Science and Law carried out a 10-month-long renovation of the Gezhi Building, using traditional technology to repair the dry walls to allow the walls to breathe; restoring the wooden windows and adding screen windows to make it look original as well as energy-saving; proofing with real building objects to restore the cornices and the curved shape of the corners of the roof; and reproducing the veranda and restoring the atrium to echo the overall style of the building. This renovation project has also become the first typical example of repairing and restoring “St. John’s Historical Building Complex in the principle of maintaining the shape of the original objects” in terms of protection of cultural relics, providing valuable reference for the protection of other historical building complexes.