The House of China, originally known as the Hall of China, was officially opened on May 25, 1935. It was the Chinese community's effort to participate as a part of the 1935-1936 California Pacific International Exposition held at Balboa Park, San Diego.
During the depression era in the United States, local civic visionaries dreamed of an international exposition to boost the local economy and to instill civic pride in San Diego. An aspect of the plan was to attract foreign exhibitors to San Diego. The Exposition Committee, headed by Frank Dugan, Director of International Relations for the Exposition approached Mr. Sun Mow Hom to get the Chinese community to participate.
Mr. Sun Mow Hom was the English Secretary for the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) of San Diego. He enlisted the CCBA President, Mr. See Jin Tom, and the Chinese Secretary, Mr. Soon Kwai Tom, to work on this endeavor. After months of negotiation and planning, the CCBA opened the Hall of China in Balboa Park.
Hall of China Committee, circa 1934, in front of the CCBA Building
During the 1940s, the House of China was used by youths as a meeting site for conferences and dances. Youths sought out the House as their own domain for socials. A memorable event recalled by Dorothy Hom was learning to jitterbug from Tom Hom in the House. Tom and Dorothy also announced their wedding engagement at the House. (Later, Tom Hom went on to be the first Chinese-American elected to the San Diego City Council and then California State Assembly.)
Warm smiles and traditional hospitality have been given to hundreds of thousands of visitors to the House during the sixty plus years of its existence. Wonderful compliments have been paid to volunteer hosts and hostesses who pour tea and offer refreshments every Sunday afternoon. (Pictured here from left to right are Beverly Lee, Mary Bran, Patsy Wong, and Joan Seid, November 5, 1962.)
The House of China has been a home and leader of Chinese culture in San Diego. The original and continuing purpose of the House is to bring programs of art, dance, drama, music, and friendship into our San Diego community. Towards these ends, the House of China is open each and every Sunday throughout the year, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The current President of the House of China is Mr. David Seid. He and his wife, Grace, have devoted much of their time over the past ten years serving our community and the House of China. Mr. Seid can be contacted at (619) 578-1282.
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