El Patio Club
BING KONG TONG ASSOCIATION BUILDING
The Bing Kong Tong Association building is one of two association buildings remaining in Fresno’s Chinatown. Built in 1900, the Bing Kong Tong building was used commercially, religiously, and socially. The Bing Kong Tong Building was at the center of Chinese culture for 95 years, hosting Chinese opera performances, live stage performances, and speeches.
The first floor was used for commercial enterprise, businesses like stores, restaurants and bookstores resided here because of the direct access to the street. The second floor was reserved for more private uses, this is where the Tong Association meetings were typically held.
The Bing Kong Tong Building is characterized by Chinese architecture which can be seen in the decorative plywood signage and ornamental ironwork on the balcony and facade. This building is a great example of Chinese association buildings which were found in Chinatowns throughout California in the late 19th and early 20th century. These associations played a central role in the religious and social lives of Chinese residents.
Bing Kong Association Building Historical Document
921 China Alley, Fresno, CA 93706
Tongs were fraternal organizations that began in San Francisco in the 1860s. They helped to fulfill member’s spiritual lives, especially those without a family. Tongs spread to Chinatowns throughout the state with some tongs initially organized to provide burial in China if members died in America. Tongs also organized spring banquets and cultural and recreational activities, they also led overseas Chinese relatives to sweep the tomb during the Qingming Festival.
Bing Kong Tong had many branches throughout the United States and was known as one of the powerful Tongs in San Francisco’s Chinatown during the early 20th century. The Bing Kongs influence throughout Chinese American population was exposed during the Tong Wars between the Bing Kongs and the Hop Sing and Suey Sing Tongs. Numerous murders occurred during this gang war catching the attention of the press and initiating an investigation by attorney Wallace L. Ware.