Block Book shows
the church lot
approximately at its current. J.D. Hammond, who was the
Superintendent, is initially listed as the property owner. Later
listings are identify the
Society of the ME Church” or the “Board of Home Mission & Church ME
Husted’s Directory lists only one address for the Methodist Episcopal
Mission at 311-1/2-8th Street.
The 1913 Journal of the Pacific Chinese Mission indicates
that the chapel and school were upstairs and the ground floor premises
were rented out as stores.
After a fire in 1913 that destroyed half the block and took off one
side of the property, the church was rebuilt with the chapel and school
moved downstairs and a dormitory and parsonage upstairs. According to
George Chan, son of Rev.
Lok Shang, the downstairs also contained space for a reading room.
The pastor may
have thought God's grace was upon the church when so
many men showed up each day at the Reading Room. But it did not
take long before he realized that this had become a popular spot for
the men to wait until the Lottery results came out. Like other
Chinatowns, Oakland's was notorious for gambling. Hanging out on
the streets could attract the attention of the local constable, so why
not hide in the House of God?
When World War
II started,Rev. Edwar Lee made changes to the
building's open hours to be sensitive to the public's safety and took
the opportunity to shut down the Reading Room which lost its original
community service intent.
City of Oakland Tax Assessment Block Book, 1905
Courtesy of Oakland Public Library