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Editor's View: Get behind Chan House museum project

By: Don Chaddock, Telegraph Managing Editor
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From time to time, I get to do some pretty nifty stuff in my capacity as the editor of one of the oldest newspapers in California. Over the last few weeks, you may have seen me at the premiere of “Dangerous Waters” at Three Stages, taking in a show at Sutter Street Theatre, snapping photos at the Rotary Club of Historic Folsom’s first International Culinary Cook-off (see photos on page A10 of this week’s paper or online at folsomtelegraph.com), dropping by the grand opening of Fresh & Easy, or attending the fundraising dinner for the Chan House restoration project last Thursday evening. If someone rings the dinner bell at Hop Sing Palace on Sutter Street, it’s difficult for me to resist. The Chan House (the old residence where the “C&C Market” sign is located on Sutter Street) is in the process of being transferred to the Folsom Historical Society to be preserved and eventually turned into a Chinese history museum, joining the Folsom History Museum and Pioneer Village (all in the historic district) as points of historical interest. The group hopes to raise $300,000 by summer. “This kick-off dinner is a way to bring awareness to the project,” said project manager Jeff Ferreira-Pro, with the Folsom Historical Society. “We need the whole community to get behind it.” The dinner is simply the first of many efforts to raise money. “Because we sold out the dinner so long ago, we already have a waiting list for the next one,” Ferreira-Pro said. “We want to make history by being able to tell the history of the Chinese immigrants during the Gold Rush. They played a significant role in shaping the history of California and Folsom. “Our first step to (opening a museum) is the preservation of the Chan house,” he said. “Folsom was home to the second largest Chinese community in California at one time in the 1880s.” He said the Folsom Historical Society has amassed quite a few Chinese artifacts uncovered during the construction of Lake Natoma Crossing. “The Chan House was built in 1910 and the Chans moved in in the 1920s,” he said. “They didn’t own it because of the Chinese Exclusion Act (forbidding Chinese immigrants from owning property).” He said the Chans took ownership of the property after the repeal of the law in the 1940s. The home was last occupied in 1971. “The interior is mostly intact,” he said. ‘It will probably cost $250,000 to restore the building to be a ‘peek-in’ display.” According to supporter Claudia Cummings, who is also involved in the effort, some landscaping is planned. “The area beside the house is where (the Chans) used to have their vegetable garden and that’s where we want to put a meditation garden,” she said. “Now that we’ve finished (construction on) the street, we need to start filling in the gaps. It will be so nice to have a cup of coffee and walk through the moon gate and relax (in the garden).” The group is currently looking for volunteers. For offer help, call (916) 985-2707. Follow Don Chaddock on Twitter @anewsguy or reach him at donc@goldcountrymedia.com. His column usually publishes every week.