Hu Xueyan's (1823-1885) Villa is situated on the Yuanbao Street, a narrow alley nearby the Hefang Street, a famous old commercial street of Hangzhou. It's a typical southeast-China-style complex with houses and gardens of distinct Anhui architecture features. Hu's Villa was built in 1875 at the zenith of his prosperity and was officially open to public since 2001 after the renovation.
The villa has roughly three sections: The middle section is for reception and consultations; the eastern section is for pleasure and relaxation; and the western section is for living. In the villa, gardens, pavilions, terraces, bridges, houses, rockeries, ponds and corridors are ingeniously designed and harmoniously landscaped. Some parts of the villa have western elements as Mr. Hu lived in a time when China was opened up to outside world for trade and cultural exchange.
Hu Xueyan was born in Anhui Province, started off as a counterjumper in a money shop in Hangzhou and eventually passed away in poverty and sorrow. Following the success of his business in running money shops and pawns, he expanded the field to salt, medicine, silk, tea, cloth and arms trade, etc. It's said that in the prime time his overall wealth was half as much as the national treasury of Qing government. Although he cracked up in latter years of his life as he fell victim of political game, Hu Xueyan, who also assumed high position in government as a result of his tremendous impact in business, has been widely recognized as the stereotype of "Red-Top Merchant" (high-ranking government officials wore hat with red top in Qing Dynasty when going to imperial court), a title people use to refer to merchants who are influential in politics as well.
What else noteworthy is the Huqing Yutang Traditional Chinese Medicine Store founded by Hu Xueyan also. It's located on the Hefang Street, some ten minutes walk from the Hu's Villa. A drop-in-on to it would add more content if you intend to visit Hu's Villa.