online book
Weaverville Chinese family
Five Views: An Ethnic Historic Site Survey for California



Early Contacts

Historic Sites
Selected References


A History of Chinese Americans in California:

Chinese Benevolent Association / Chinese Social Service Center
San Diego, San Diego County

The two-story structure, measuring 25 feet by 60 feet, is constructed of unreinforced brick, with white stucco coating the front facade. On the ground floor, windows with double-hung, one-over-one sash flank double doors with octagonal windows. A large transom tops the entrance. Access to the second floor is through an entrance at the far left. Chinese characters and their translation, Chinese Benevolent Association, and a decorative screen fill the transom above this door.

The second story has a wooden balcony supported by iron brackets, an iron balustrade, and a pent tile roof. The central double doors are flanked by two windows. The transom above the doors, set in an arched frame, has Chinese characters painted on it. The parapet, with the date of construction (1911) and a flagpole, is divided from the body of the building by three rows of moldings. Traditional Chinese colors are found in the green window and door frames and the red balcony.

On April 20, 1883, the land and structures thereon were sold to Yee Hing and Company by Ida Juch for $450. Yee Hing and Company removed the existing tenements and built a Taoist temple, which appears to have been the only Chinese temple constructed in San Diego and thus the religious center of the local Chinese American community at that time. The temple was torn down and replaced by a new building on August 24, 1911. The occupants of the new building were the Gee Goon Tong (also written Chee Kung Tong), famous for their help in plotting Dr. Sun Yat-sen's revolution that made China a republic.

In 1920, as an outgrowth of the Tong, the Chinese Benevolent Association was founded to represent and protect the interests of all Chinese Americans in San Diego. Between 1937 and 1946, the Chung Wah School was located in the building. Reverend K. Y. Wong, pastor of the Chinese Congregational Mission, taught Cantonese there. At first the school had only 20 students, but soon the number increased to 60. Recently, the building has housed the Chinese Senior Citizen Center. Opening in 1972, the center aids the city's elderly Chinese and Chinese Americans, focusing on the 130 residents of the area. The building thus is of prime importance as the center of the Chinese American community in San Diego.

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Last Modified: Wed, Nov 17 2004 10:00:00 pm PDT

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