Heinlenville was one of six San José Chinatowns. Archaeologists from the Anthropological Studies Center, Sonoma State University and local San José historians are working with the Redevelopment Agency, City of San José to unearth selected areas of Heinlenville and early Japantown. The test excavation took place from the 11th to 17th March 2008, and data recovery excavation was conducted from the 14th to 23rd of April 2009. Work continues now back at the ASC lab, as we process artifacts and soil samples recovered from the site.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Ng Shing Gung Temple Uncovered

Ng Shing Gung TempleWe worked today to uncover the Ng Shing Gung Temple. This temple was the religious and cultural heart of the Heinlenville community. The top story of the two-story building contained the community altar, while the bottom story was used for community meetings and the children’s Chinese language school. A replica of the temple was built at Kelley Park, San Jose.

Finding the foundations for the Ng Shing Gung TempleUsing the backhoe, we stripped the asphalt and gravel fill on what we thought to be the location of the temple based on historic maps. Our first indication that we might have picked the right spot was a rough line of old bricks. The bricks fell along the alignment of what would have been the temple wall. The backhoe stripped off more asphalt to give us a better look and found the corner and foundations of the temple that would have fronted the old Cleveland Street. In many ways, this is one of the most exciting things we could have found. It is a tangible link between today’s Chinese American community in San Jose and its historic heart.

Archaeologists of the Anthropological Studies Center (ASC)