The Jizo Peace Center is pleased to announce the winner of our 2014 Humanitarian Award: the Taoist Temple Preservation Society, a nonprofit organization in beautiful downtown east Hanford.
The Taoist Preservation Society was established in 1972. Its mission is to preserve, maintain and revitalize China Alley, a historic Chinese community going back to the founding of the city of Hanford in 1877. The Southern Pacific railroad constructed a new extension line through the San Joaquin Valley at that time, and many Chinese labored on the railroad and remained in the area to do farm work. The Taoist Temple became a center of the small community, as a meeting hall, hostel, and Chinese school among other functions.
The Taoist Temple is completely restored with a museum and gift shop downstairs and the Temple museum upstairs. It is open to the public the first Saturday of the each month, on special occasions, and by appointment. The Society is restoring two other historic buildings they own in China Alley.
In January 2015 an additional historic China Alley building was acquired along with three pivotal lots. This building is in need of extensive restoration.
China Alley in 2011 was named as one of “America's 11 most Endangered Historic Places” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Arianne Wing is the current President of the Taoist Temple Preservation Society. Her family has had businesses in China Alley since the 1880s. Her great-grandfather opened one of China Alley’s first noodle houses in 1883. In 1958 her family opened the Imperial Dynasty, which became a noted 5-star restaurant. The Imperial Dynasty closed in 2006. Steve Banister, also a Taoist Temple board member, comes from a long line of downtown activists.
Currently Arianne and Steve operate the L.T. Sue Tea Room and Emporium in a historic building located in China Alley. The Tea Room, with over 100 types of teas and tea blends, will celebrate its 3rd Anniversary this month. Wing and Banister donate 20 percent of their profits to the Taoist Temple Preservation Society for China Alley restoration efforts.
"The Taoist Temple Preservation Society thanks the Jizo Peace Center for this honor," said Wing. "It encourages us to continue our efforts to preserve and revitalize historic China Alley and to offer to the public the history of the early Chinese pioneers and their contribution to the community."
The Jizo Peace Center salutes the Taoist Preservation Society and the efforts of Steve Banister and Arianne Wing in their efforts to restore, preserve and revitalize one of Hanford’s jewels – Historic China Alley.