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1891-1894: Lost Years

With their lease expired, the Chinese Mission School moved from its 15th Street location and their old building was quickly rebuilt into a neighborhood dwelling.  In the years from 1891 through 1894, there is some uncertainty as to the where the church was relocated.  The 1892 and 1892-1893 City Directories list the Mission at 1017 Clay Street, but the 1892 City Directory also has a listing for the Mission at 37-6th Street.

The 1892 listing at 1017 Clay Street shows the pastor at the time as F. J. Masters.  A "S.F." is printed behind his name. One possible explanations is that this notation was intended to indicate that he was based in San Francisco.  The other possibility is that the address itself referred to Clay Street in San Francisco which would have been close to the Chinatown there.  The former explanation appears more credible since the SF would otherwise have followed directly after the street address; there would be no reason to have a San Francisco listing in an Oakland directory; and finally, the address is consistent with long-time church members' recollections of a building "on Clay, near 10th."

The Block Book lists the owner of this lot as Elnia le Farnham (no apparent link to the mission).  It is conceivable that the mission rented space and therefore would not necessarily be listed in tax documents.

"Moving Chinatowns"

The Chinese initially settled in shrimping camps near the estuary at First and Castro Streets in the 1850s. Anti-Chinese discrimination and local exclusion laws pushed the Chinese one location to another.  The late 1800s San Pablo Avenue Chinatown (now known as Old Uptown Chinatown)  was located on Telegraph between 19th and 20th Streets.  But the Chinese had also settled on 14th Street between Washington and Clay Streets.  The location of the Methodist Mission was well situated to minister to the Chinese community.

1017 Clay - closeup
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1017 Clay Street in 1889

Sanborn Insurance Map, 1889-1901

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1017 Clay Street in 1901
Sanborn Insurance Map, 1889-1901
Courtesy of Oakland Public Library

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Chinese Community United Methodist Church - 321 8th Street Oakland, CA 94607 - (510) 452-1020   [ directions & map ]