Story published by Ohio University; written by Emily Weaver.

In the late 1950s, Shao Fang Sheng and her husband began to build their dream home entirely by themselves. Both had been apprentices of famed architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. For over 50 years the Shengs renovated and built additions to their house, never fully completing the project.

Director Weimin Zhang, an Ohio University Distinguished Alumna, tells the story of Shao Fang’s life and the Sheng’s iconic home in her 2000 documentary film, The House of Spirit. The documentary will be among a slate of films made by international alumni featured during OHIO’s International Alumni Reunion, April 15-18, 2015. The House of Spirit will be shown on Thursday, April 16 at The Athena Cinema.

Born to a wealthy Chinese family, Sheng became famous for her watercolor paintings. She was one of only a few people to study under Wright. Sheng entertained guests such as John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart during her apprenticeship with Wright. After completing their apprenticeships, the Shengs relocated from place to place, eventually settling in Williamstown, West Virginia. Amazed by the natural beauty, the Shengs bought a 10-acre plot of land and began to design their new home. They named their house “Winged Pavilion” after a Tang Dynasty poem. 

Sheng taught art, philosophy, and taichi at the Chautauqua Institute in New York. Her husband, S.P. Sheng served as an adjunct associate professor of architecture at Ohio University in the 1960s. The Shengs also sponsored Chinese students to attend Ohio University and West Virginia University.

For more information about the International Alumni Reunion activities, visit