The building site at 428 Third Avenue has an association with the Chinese community going back to the early days of Chinatown. In 1883 the land and structures were removed and a Taoist temple was built. On 1880’s Sanborn maps, this building was constructed and occupied by the Gee Goon Tong (Chee Kung Tong), known for helping to plot Dr. Sun Yet-Sens’s revolution and founding of the Republic of China.
The founding date, 1911, happens to coincide with the date of the building and appears on the buildings parapet.
Early photos also show the “Masonic Building” on the parapet, just below the date. This name reflects the early use of the building by the Gee Goon Tong or the Chinese Freemasons.
In 1920 the CCBA supplanted the Tong and became the principal organization representing the San Diego Chinese. Later the parlor of the Native Sons of the Golden West occupied the ground floor of the building. This organization became the Chinese American Citizens Alliance (CACA). The Alliance was formed by American-born Chinese who wanted to take a more American-oriented activist role in fighting discrimination laws.
A Community Outlet
In the 1930s the building housed the Chinese Language School (Chung Wah), where Rev. K.T. Wong and his wife taught the local children Chinese language and culture. In December of 1970, the CCBA was incorporated as a nonprofit organization and subsequently received tax-exempt status. In San Diego, the CCBA has evolved from a traditional umbrella-type organization, where the largely male merchant members oversaw the affairs of Chinatown, to a more diverse one with emphasis on the charitable, social, and cultural support of the community.