Building No. 40 was originally named the Yen Hall. The cornerstone was laid on December 24, 1903 and the inauguration ceremony was held on October 1, 1904. The name Yen was to commemorate Yen Yung-kiung who made great contributions to St. John’s University. He was referred to as the first person to introduce western psychology to China.


The building is a three-storey brick-and-timber in a hybrid Chinese and western styles. The facades were dry walls of green bricks, the verandas outside the wall were built of red bricks and arches, and it inherits the Chinese-style slope roof of the Schereschewsky Hall.


On February 1, 1913, St. John’s University held the closing ceremony of the semester. Sun Yat-sen, then the first provisional president of the Republic of China, was invited to deliver a speech in the auditorium. After ascending to the rostrum, Sun Yat-sen was welcomed by prolonged cheers from the faculty and students. He admonished the young people, “Now that we are talking about responsibilities, it is written in the Bible that those who have seen the light should guide other people. He who has knowledge must pass it on. In a democratic country, education is the foundation. People are eager to learn and they are all cheerful about it. Those who first come to an awareness should enlighten the others. The responsibility must be taken to teach the people with what they have acquired; be cautious not to withhold the light of wisdom to oneself.” In his speech, Sun Yat-sen deliberated the importance of science education and inspired teachers and students to make unremitting efforts for the cause of education. In front of the Building No. 40, there is an inscription of “Sun Yat-sen’s Lecture Site” to commemorate the occasion.