Preservation and Landmark Recognition

The CHSSC has always supported preservation and protection of our architectural heritage. We co-sponsored in 1976 the Lang Station historical marker in Santa Clarita, commemorating the site of the first railroad line, built by the Chinese, which connected San Francisco and Los Angeles on the 100th anniversary. We have supported preservation efforts in other communities such as the Chew Kee Store in Fiddletown in Gold Rush country, the Riverside Chinatown Historic Site, and the local Formosa Cafe in Hollywood. Between 1992 and 1995, we purchased and restored the 19th century Chinese Shrine in Evergreen Cemetery in Boyle Heights. In 1995, we purchased two Victorian-era houses in Los Angeles Chinatown, known as the Chinatown Heritage and Visitors Center, to serve as a cultural resource for those who wish to learn about the history of Chinatown and Los Angeles through ongoing exhibits, a media center, research library, and archives. These two houses are still undergoing preservation and restoration today.

CHSSC has worked to assure the dignified reburial of remains and artifacts identified as Chinese that were found as a result of excavation for the extension of the Los Angeles metro system. At this time historic Riverside Chinatown’s archaeological site is being threatened by a planned commercial real estate development supported by the Riverside Council members. On February 24, 2009, a temporary restraining order was issued to halt further unauthorized disturbance of the land. CHSSC volunteers are working closely with Riverside’s Save Our Chinatown Committee on a permanent injunction.

CHSSC has become the guardian of one of the largest collections of Chinese American archaeological artifacts in the country; our archives house material from Old Los Angeles Chinatown (located in present day Union Station), Santa Barbara Chinatown, and work camps in Donner Pass, Grass Valley, and Columbia (Calif.). Our Robert Nash Collection of photographs and documents related to the early Chinese fishing industry has been a valuable resource for researchers. Our collections are housed in an archives facility developed with assistance with a grant provided by the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA). Our Digital Archives Project was completed with a grant from the John Randolph and Dora Haynes Foundation; thousands of digital images are now available, via a link on our website, on a vast electronic archive managed by the University of Southern California.

Evergreen Cemetery Chinese Shrine: Los Angeles Chinese residents began using a “potter’s field” as a burial ground at the eastern edge of Los Angeles because they were barred from burial at other locations. A shrine was built on the site in 1888. By the 1990’s, long after most of the nearly 1000 burials had been relocated, the shrine was abandoned and deteriorating. The Chinese Historical Society of Southern California acquired the shrine property, restored it, secured Historic-Cultural Monument status, and conducts annual Qing Ming ceremonies at the site.