Here's one for all you history and culture buffs. We have arranged for special access and a unique opportunity to photograph in a 19th century Chinese temple.
Owned by the City of Oroville, this well preserved Chinese Temple is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a California Landmark. Here, thousands of Daoist, Confucian and Buddhist prospectors from China worshipped side by side for health, happiness, wealth and gold. Although it is a museum, it is still an active temple and used occasionally for worship.
Built in 1863, the Main Temple is a unique survivor of the Chinese community in Oroville during the early years of California statehood. When it was built, there were an estimated 10,000 Chinese located in the Oroville area. This was the religious, business, and social center of the Chinese community until the 1920s and 1930s when difficult economic times and racial strife forced many Chinese residents to migrate out of the area. It is unique in that it serves many eastern religions as “The Temple of Many Deities” (Liet Sheng Kong). The three most common religions that worshiped here were Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Later separate temples for Confucianism and Buddhism were added.
Next to the Main Temple is the Chan Room. Originally a wooden room, it was destroyed in the 1907 flood. It was rebuilt with brick in 1874. This is a Confucian room for reverence of ancestors.
In 1868 a two story building was added behind the Main Temple. On the first floor is the Council Room which was used for conducting business affairs of the Chinese community. Since few of the Chinese laborers could write they would come here to have letters written to send home or to settle a dispute. On the second floor is the Moon Temple, built for the worship of Buddha.
In 1968, Tapestry Hall was built to display the extensive collection of embroidered tapestries and other objects.
The Fong Lee Company Building was added in 2008. It contains the original light fixtures, cabinets, cases, and artifacts from the medicinal herb sales and gold purchasing shop of the Chan family.
Within the temple compound is a small garden courtyard, the bricks are laid out in the traditional “Beneficial Clouds” pattern and the plantings are all of Chinese origin.
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