National Register of Historic Places in Sacramento County, California
Established as a steamer stop in 1851 by John W. Sharp, Walnut Grove is located in the Sacramento River Delta. In the late 1860s, hundreds of Chinese laborers laid off from railroad construction or leaving the gold mines, went to work building levees and farming the reclaimed land.
On land rented from local owners Sperry and Dye, an Asian community was established to serve hundreds of local workers. Although laborers were generally boarded in barracks near their job sites, they would typically visit towns on their one day off, making use of the business enterprises. Through 1915 this community was composed of both people from Chungshan and Sze Yup provinces in southern China Businesses operating in town included dry goods and grocery stores, shoe stores, fish and meat markets, saloons, gambling halls, boarding houses, herbal shops, a temple, barber shops and baths, and other businesses.
In 1915 a major fire broke out in the Chinatown, leveling eighty buildings in the three-block area. This fire resulted in radical changes in the makeup of the community.
First, the Japanese people, then residing within the Chinese American community, took the opportunity to physically separate themselves by establishing their own "Japantown" one block north of the Chinese district.
Second, those businessmen originating from the Chungshan province moved one mile north of Walnut Grove, joining three of their fellow Chungshan countrymen who had already established businesses on the land to serve laborers in a nearby cannery. Augmented by the Walnut Grove Chungshan population, this small settlement became the thriving Chinese town of Locke.
Finally, the Sze Yup people remained on the site of the destroyed Chinatown, rebuilding their former community as a replica of the town that had been destroyed in the fire.
Walnut Grove continued to prosper following the 1915 fire. During the 1920s the Chinese American community had a reputation as being wide open with gambling, opium dens, and brothels. The Chinese American community consisted primarily of bachelors or married men whose families were in China. There were very few family groups in the community prior to World War II.
Aided by the influx of Filipino labors during the 1920s, the three-block section contained over sixty buildings and had nine gambling halls, six grocery stores, four restaurants, and three barbershops. Other businesses included fish, shoe, plumbing, laundry, and tailor shops, hardware, dry goods, and general merchandise stores, a Chinese school, temple, and benevolent society headquarters. In addition to the businesses, there were 28 houses used to board laborers who came into town to live during the winter season.
Although the transient farm laborer population declined somewhat during the Depression, the permanent Asian population of Walnut Grove prospered in the early 1930s. In 1926 the Isleton Chinatown burned down, destroying all buildings and personal property. While the town rebuilt, some of the residents moved into Walnut Grove.
Courtland's Chinese American community also suffered from fire in 1930. Unlike Isleton, the people from Courtland were unable to rent land to rebuild their community and the majority moved into Walnut Grove, adding to the population spurt of the early 1930s.
In 1937 a second fire broke out in the Chinese American section of Walnut Grove, decimating the community, and again destroying over eighty buildings within a three-block area. This conflagration killed four laborers and left over 500 people homeless
Rebuilding efforts began immediately. Three of the gambling halls were rebuilt and remained in operation until the
1950s. By rebuilding their community, Walnut Grove became the last Chinatown established in the Delta after nearly seventy years of
Chinese American residency. It was the only Chinese American community to use stucco and Art Moderne/Modernistic architectural
styles, adapted through the use of lighting, geometric pattering, and Chinese elements, to
reflect specific Asian preferences.
Adapted from the NRHP nomination submitted in 1990.
Adapted from the NRHP nomination submitted in 1990.
This forty-acre district contains twenty-one contributing buildings and eight noncontributing buildings.
|Name||Year||Address||Remarks||Sort Address||Sort Name|
|Stage Depot||1916||14132 Market Street||One of two structures to survive the 1937 fire.||Market 14132||Stage Depot|
|Pumphouse||1938||14134 Market Street||Originally a gambling hall.||Market 14134||Pumphouse|
|Bing Kong Tong Building||1937||14136 Market Street||The social center for Chinatown.||Market 14136||Bing Kong Tong Building|
|Suen Building||1937||14138 Market Street||Market 14138||Suen Building|
|Restaurant||1938||14157 Market Street||Market 14157||Restaurant|
|Barber Shop||1937||14153 Market Street||Market 14153||Barber Shop|
|Soda Fountain||1937||14151 Market Street||Market 14151||Soda Fountain|
|Grocery Store||1937||14147 Market Street||Art moderne||Market 14147||Grocery Store|
|Gambling Parlor||1937||14135 Market Street||Market 14135||Gambling Parlor|
|Grocery Store||1937||14133 Market Street||Market 14133||Grocery Store|
|Residence||1937||1260 C Street||Street C 1260||Residence|
|Residence||1937||14140 Dye Street||Art moderne||Dye 14140||Residence|
|Residence||1938||14142 Dye Street||Art moderne||Dye 14142||Residence|
|Residence||1937||14162 Dye Street||Art moderne||Dye 14162||Residence|
|Garage||1938||14161 Dye Street||Dye 14161||Garage|
|Residence||1940||14157 Dye Street||Dye 14157||Residence|
|Residence||1937||14137 Dye Street||Some art moderne elements||Dye 14137||Residence|
|Residence||1927||14137 Tyler Street||Survived the 1937 fire||Tyler 14137||Residence|
|Residence||1937||14161 Tyler Street||Tyler 14161||Residence|
|East Indian Store||1937||14161 Tyler Street||Tyler 14161||East Indian Store|