This 1.6-acre property is part of the “Cambria Historic Center Park” which includes the Guthrie-Bianchini House and Garden across Center Street, and a CCSD property at the foot of Bridge Street. The Reserve is open to the public daily. Signs along the paths explain natural and historical aspects of the site. The level open area at the center will provide space for passive recreation and occasional community events.
In 1999, Greenspace purchased the property to preserve its natural character and create an instructional nature trail and demonstration area about sound management of creek frontage. The creek-side environment provides habitat for steelhead trout, red-legged frogs, tide-water gobies (all threatened), and deer and bobcats. Interpretive exhibits will highlight ecological processes and issues in the North Coast Area.
This property was once Cambria's historical “Chinese Center,” the social focus for workers who harvested seaweed and abalone for shipment back to China, or worked in local quicksilver (mercury) mines in the mountains.
Here local Chinese celebrated holidays, gambled, socialized, and worshiped. Buildings included a bunkhouse, laundries, cabins and a structure people have called the “Chinese temple.” It had fraternal and religious uses serving the Chee Kong Tong. Of the structures that served the Chinese Center, only the Chinese temple remains. Buildings like this are rare in California, so it has been restored and will be preserved and its significance explained with interpretive exhibits. (Others are located north of Sacramento in Mendocino, Weaverville, Marysville and Oroville.)
Chinese left the site about 1916, and the Warren family purchased the property. The older and less stable buildings were eventually torn down, leaving only the Chinese temple near the creek, and a building facing Center Street that dates from between 1895-1906. About 1919 a building from Main Street was moved and joined to the Center Street structure to form a kitchen. Then in 1925 the former Chinese temple was moved from near the creek and joined on—making a house of three parts, known as the Red House. This composite structure was occupied until 1970. In 2001 the dilapidated portions of the house were demolished, leaving only the original temple building. Greenwood and Associates prepared a report of the Chinese Temple History for Greenspace in 2001.
Creekside Reserve Development
Greenspace contracted with Greenwood and Associates in 2005 to prepare a restoration plan for the temple and surrounding grounds. Beginning in spring 2007, Greenspace (1) moved the temple to a more suitable site on a stable foundation, (2) developed paths, (3) improved the perimeter fencing, (4) restored the Chinese temple with a ramp to make it wheelchair accessible, (5) installed interpretive exhibits about the site and the temple, and created two parking spaces. These improvements allowed the property to be opened to the public.
A photographic description of the Restoration of the Interior Paint can be found in a report prepared by Ethos - Conservation of Ancient Art.
Greenspace is seeking designation of the site as a historical landmark.
Purchase of the property, archeological and historical investigations, construction plans, permitting, and demolition and trash removal have been accomplished to date exclusively with cash donations and donations of time and professional expertise. No government funds have been used on this project to date (though we did submit several grant applications!)
We Need Your Help
In addition to receiving donations, we are selling commemorative bricks which form part of the path system. Stamped with up to 60 characters, a brick can be a memorial, an advertisement, a sentiment, or a declaration. To purchase a brick for $500 contact Greenspace at (805) 927-2866. If that sum is too high for you, consider joining with friends or family and purchase a ‘Buddy Brick’ and split the cost.
Visit our Shop Page to find out more about our 'Buddy Brick'and find other items for sale.