“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
The Dalles in Wasco County, Oregon — The American West (Northwest)

Chinatown - The Dalles

A Brief History

Chinatown - The Dalles Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, July 2, 2017
1. Chinatown - The Dalles Marker
Inscription. The development of this block began in the early 1850's and by 1858, an assortment of shops and businesses occupied the entire 1st Street frontage (then also known as Main Street of Front Street). In 1879, a fire swept through the downtown, burning many of the wood framed structures to the ground. The fire destroyed every building in this block, with the exception of Governor Z.F. Moody's stone and brick dry goods store, which still stands on the corner of 1st and Washington. Within a few short months the burned buildings were rebuilt; the railroad was coming through town and none of the business owners wanted to miss the chance to profit from the construction boom. The construction of the railroad down the middle of 1st Street raised street grades and changed the character of 1st Street, with ever-increasing rail traffic eventually leading to a shift of the main commercial district south to 2nd and 3rd Streets. The construction of the railroad also brought a large number of workers into town, including some 600 Chinese laborers. The Chinese had first come to The Dalles in the 1850's, and by 1880 the Federal Census listed 117 Chinese residents (115 male, 2 female), making up 5% of the total population of the town.
By 1890, most of the Chinese residences and businesses were located on this block fronting 1st Street: here there were
Wing Hong Hai Co. image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, July 2, 2017
2. Wing Hong Hai Co.
210 E. First Street
Business Owners and Residents
circa 1900 - 1910

(top left to right, bottom) Lee Yeun Hong, Lee Dick, Lee Wing, Lei On.
three Chinese Lodging houses, and one Chinese Wash House. This building, locally known as the Chinese building, was built as a fireproof replacement to the building that burned down in the 1879 fire. Benjamin Wolf had the building here at 210 E. 1st Street constructed with food thick brick walls, iron fire doors front and back, and a roof made fireproof with a layer of brick and mortar capped by tin.
The first tenant was Joseph Freiman, a seller of Boots, Shoes, and Sewing Machines; he moved his business from the block in the early 1880's. In 1884, the building was being used as a residence, and by 1889, was a Chinese Merchandise Store. Federal Census records indicate that the Store was also a lodging house, with as many as 10 residents. By 1894, the Wing Hong Hai Company Chinese Merchandise Store was here, and in 1900 the store also included a Laundry and a Wash House. The Wing Hong Hai Company was in business until 1913, much of that time with four partners, Lee Yuen Hong, his brother Lee Wing, Lee Dick, and Lei On. A Chinese Store was still in operation here until the late 1920's, it was remodeled to serve as a Creamery in the 1940's, and was later used for furniture storage. By the 1980's the building had been abandoned. Restoration here a the Wing Hong Hai Company building started in 1999 and continues at a slow pace. To date it has a new roof (no more brick), and much
The Rise and Fall of Chinatown image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, July 2, 2017
3. The Rise and Fall of Chinatown
The Dalles Oregon

Insurance maps of The Dalles for the years 1884, 1889, 1909, 1926, and 1960, highlighting Chinese businesses and residences in blue.
of the seismic upgrades have been completed. The original doors and windows are being restored and will be replaced in these openings.
Archaeological excavations at the rear of the building in 2011 uncovered a rich, varied, and significant archaeological site with remains that perhaps span the entire historical period of The Dalles. The archaeological site also includes the remnant front of the Chew Kee Store, still visible at the sidewalk level 30 feet to the east of here. Chew Kee operated his Chinese Merchandise store at that location for some 50 years. The remnant of the stone and brick storefronts contained fragments of the iron fire doors, and if you peer down below the sidewalk level, you can still see cast iron column bases at the 1879 sidewalk level. some 5 feet below current grade.
Location. 45° 36.135′ N, 121° 10.915′ W. Marker is in The Dalles, Oregon, in Wasco County. Marker is on East 1st Street near Washington Street, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 210 East 1st Street, The Dalles OR 97058, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Baldwin Saloon (within shouting distance of this marker); Granada Theater (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Seeing Red
Archaeology at 210 East First Street image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, July 2, 2017
4. Archaeology at 210 East First Street
Captions: (top left) 210 E. First Street, The Dalles, built 1879; (top right) Sanborn Insurance Map of the block in 1909; (center right) Lithograph showing this block in 1884, the Wing Hong Hai Co. is at the center.; (bottom center) Archaeological Excavations Feb. - April, 2011.
(about 300 feet away); The Pioneer Building (about 300 feet away); Oaks Hotel (about 400 feet away); French and Company Bank (about 400 feet away); Maier Building (about 400 feet away); Nickelsen Bookstore (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in The Dalles.
Categories. Asian Americans
The Chinese Building image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, July 2, 2017
5. The Chinese Building
The Chinese Building windows image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, July 2, 2017
6. The Chinese Building windows
Credits. This page was last revised on January 11, 2018. This page originally submitted on January 10, 2018, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 91 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on January 10, 2018, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.
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