The Weaverville Joss House - California State Historic Park
The Temple of the Forest Beneath The Clouds
The Weaverville Joss House, a Taoist temple, is the oldest continuously used Chinese temple in California. On display are art objects, pictures, mining tools, and weapons used in the 1854 Tong War. This Taoist temple is still a place of worship and a fascinating look into the role played by Chinese immigrants in early California history. The Joss House was built in 1874 as a replacement for another that had burned.
In an effort to preserve this important part of California's Chinese tradition, the Weaverville Joss House became a part of the California State Park System in 1956. Many of the historical objects have been restored and the structure itself stabilized. In addition to the temple equipment, park visitors will see Chinese art objects, pictures, mining tools, and wrought iron weapons used in the 1854 Tong War.The Chinese population of Weaverville started to decline after the 1850s, as gold ore became scarcer, and many left to work on railroad construction. By 1931 only 16 were counted in town. In 1933 the Weaverville Chamber of Commerce went on record in support of making the Joss House a State Historic Park, but nothing came of the proposal for another 23 years. Without the efforts of Moon Lim Lee, the Weaverville Joss House probably would not have survived.
Moon Lee started his business career at the age of seven, selling vegetables from a horse-drawn cart. He continually improved and extended his enterprises and became a successful grocer and merchant. He worked constantly in his later years to preserve the Weaverville Joss House and get it added to the State Park System. He was appointed trustee of the temple in 1938. Moon Lee continued to promote the Weaverville Joss House as a historic treasure for his own people and for all California and the world until his death in 1985, at the age of 82.
Through the efforts of Moon Lee and many others, the Weaverville Joss House became part of the State Park system in 1956. It was renovated and opened to the public in July 1957. California State Parks later added a visitor center, other structural improvements on the grounds, a parking lot, and landscaping. The Kuan Yin pool, near the visitor center, was built in 1985 by the Weaverville Joss House Association.
One of the recent restoration efforts has been to restore one of the original Lion Dance costumes. A wonderful
effort at preserving the Chinese heritage of the site and the community.
The State Park and Recreation Commission classified the Joss House as a State Historic Park in September 1963. It has been named California Historical Landmark No. 709.
For more information please click here go to the California State Park page. There you will find additional information about the park and the Chinese immigrants to California during the Gold Rush.
Other Materials and Resources
Weaverville Joss House Educational Models
Weaverville Joss House Map & Brochure