The Wing Lee Laundry, which means “Forever Victorious” in Cantonese, was originally a simple one-story wood frame building that served as both home and workplace for a group of Chinese immigrants living on the outskirts of Gold Rush San Francisco from the early 1850s through the late 1870s. The Chinese immigrants living at this archaeological site ran a laundering and tailoring business for the broader San Francisco community in addition to performing other duties important to the day-to-day life of the Chinese neighborhood in the vicinity of Steamboat Point. What we have learned from this site points to the self-sufficiency of Chinese immigrants and the diversity of services they provided to each other, while also providing a particular kind of service to the larger community.
Most of the building’s wooden architecture was destroyed when it was abandoned; however, a largely intact brick hearth whose chimney had collapsed atop it was found along a wall of the structure. The hearth was filled with ash and exhibited burn marks on the top layer of bricks from having a hot cauldron, wok or perhaps irons set atop it. Attached to the base of the hearth was a redwood drainage channel that angled down towards what would have been the beach or shoreline. The remnants of a variety of artifacts were found within this channel. Next ->