Formerly known as the Schereschewsky Hall, the Taofen Building was built to honor Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky, the founder of St. John’s University. The foundation stone was laid in 1894 and completed in 1895.


It is a two-storey building with a brick-and-timber structure, with walls dominated by green bricks. In certain parts, the lines are decorated with red bricks. With a western-style verandah arch, a gable and hip roof covered by grey tiles in butterfly shape and spectacular upturned ridges on each corner of the roof, the building fully reflects the understanding of the west to Chinese architecture. The inside of the building maintains the features of traditional quadrangles, such as spacious corridors with large windows, which render ideal conditions for modern teaching.


There is a three-storey bell tower in the center of the Schereschewsky Hall, with a huge clock on top. The bell was cast by the E. Edward Associates of Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Since the bell tower was inaugurated in December 1895, it had become the first large clock in Shanghai, not only meeting the needs of the faculty and students of St. John University, but also facilitating the residents nearby. 


After the founding of the Peoples Republic of China, in order to commemorate Zou Taofen (or Zou Enrun), one of the graduates from St. John’s University, Schereschewsky Hall was renamed the Taofen Building in March, 1951. Zou Taofen was one of the most prominent figures in the history of journalism and publishing in China and a well-known political commentator and publisher. He graduated from St. John’s University in 1921. After the outbreak of the September 18th Incident in 1931, he devoted himself to the Movement of Resistance Against Japan and Saving the Nation from Extinction in Shanghai, and edited such publications as War of Resistance Against Japan and National War of Resistance Against Japan successively. In May 1936, he responded positively to the call of the Communist Party of China to establish the Anti-Japanese National United Front, and initiated the establishment of the All-China Federation of National Salvation in Shanghai with Shen Junru and others. After his death in July, 1944 in Shanghai, he was posthumously recognized as a member of the Communist Party by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in September, and Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, and Zhu De wrote elegies for him respectively. In July 1949, Mao Zedong wrote an elegy that read “In memory of Zou Taofen, a fighter for democracy” on the fifth anniversary of the death of Zou Taofen. In November, 1995, to commemorate the 100th birthday of Zou Taofen, the unveiling ceremony of the bronze bust of Zou Taofen was held in the central courtyard of the Taofen Building.