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Chinese Temple Plans To Create Museum

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

An altar likely made in the 1800s is irreplaceable, according to Bok Kai project manager Heather Young.

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

The Bok Kai Temple in Marysville, Calif. has decided to create a museum to tell the story of Chinese immigrants during the California Gold Rush.

The temple has silk robes, pottery and an altar, among 300 to 500 artifacts that date to the 1850's.

They show the colorful history of the Chinese in northern California. But, the items have been in boxes for years in a storage room in downtown Marysville – until now.

0531 16 bm bok kai storageThere are as many as 500 artifacts in storage at the Bok Kai Temple in Marysville.  Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

A group of San Jose State students is identifying and cataloguing the items as part of a master's program.

Heather Young is the project manager for the Bok Kai Temple. She says it plans to display the artifacts.

"This is such a historical site and is so rich in story that we don't give it enough attention," Young says. "And for it to be in our back yard and not have school or any other community organizations really know about it is sad."

But, there may be some significant costs associated with the rooms where the items would be kept.

0531 16 bok kai dust

The bricks made for part of the buildings in downtown Marysville may not have been fired properly and are now slowly turning to powder.  Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

There are piles of brick dust at the base of some of the walls.

"The way they were made back in the 1800's, mid 1800's, the brick itself is not as strong as the actual mortar that is around it."

Some of the walls have been painted over the years and have not deteriorated as much.

A renovation of a temple in Oroville with similar problems cost about half-a-million dollars.  

The Bok Kai temple has raised more than $40,000 for the project since March.

0531 16 bm tony young heather young

Tony Young and his daughter Heather open the Bok Kai temple doors. The temple was dedicated in 1880. Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio 

Bob Moffitt

Sacramento Region Reporter

Bob is the Sacramento Region Reporter. He has been at the forefront of the coverage of the Sacramento Kings' saga and the effort to build a new arena in Sacramento. He also covers education, business, environment, and sports stories.   Read Full Bio