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HISTORY OF THE LEE FAMILY ASSOCIATIONS IN THE U.S.A.

By: Elder Steven J. Lee     Updated by: Wing K. Lee

San Francisco    Sacramento     Portland       Stockton       New York   Los Angeles    Boston    Chicago   Houston      
Oakland   Washington D.C. & Philadelphia     Baltimore & Seattle   Tucson & Courtland   First National Convention

SAN FRANCISCO

The Lee Family Association was first established circa 1866 in San Francisco by two brothers Lee Won Moon and Lee Toy Moon in the back of Wing Chin, their Chinese Arts Goods Store, located at 811 Grant Avenue. At first they named their organization "Lee Lung Se Tong". The name was changed to Lee Family Association in 1927. The current name, Lee On Dong Association, has been in use since 1947. The San Francisco Lee Family Association was incorporated in the State of California in 1907. Soon after incorporation, it moved into a newly purchased building at 112 Waverly Place. In 1917, the building at 915 Grant Avenue was purchased. The Grant Avenue building was remodeled in 1963 for use as the Lee Family National Headquarters in the U.S.A.

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SACRAMENTO

The Sacramento Lee Family Association was established circa 1870. At first it was located in a rented space at 404 1/2 I Street. Following the condemnation of the building by the Health Department, it was forced to move to the nearby Sing Lee Store. Seven years later, because the back of the Sing Lee Store became too small for the Association, it moved to 909 1/2 Third Street. In 1935, the Lee Family Association again moved to 1010 1/2 Third Street. It built its own building in 1946 at 304 J Street. This building was demolished in 1965 to make way for a new Chinatown. A house at 1011 T Street was purchased and converted for the use of the Lee Association. Currently, the Association is in a bigger building at 2014 9th Street, which it purchased in 1982.


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PORTLAND

The Portland Lee Family Association was established circa 1881 in the back of a Lee's business store. As the membership grew and funds were made available, the Association acquired a building at 3rd & NW Davis Street in Chinatown. The building burned down in 1960. With the insurance proceeds, the Association bought another building at SE Ankeny and 24th in early 1970. In 1989, a team headed by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Lee and Sam Won Lee began to look for a larger building to accommodate the growing membership and to replace the older building. In 1990, with the help of Mr. Way Lee, a new building was found. With donations from the Lee brothers and sisters, and help from the San Francisco Lee Family Association, the Association moved to 1101 SE Salmon Street.


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STOCKTON

The Stockton Lee Family Association was established circa 1888. Their first building was a 5-story rooming house in Chinatown funded by the federal government. Two years later, the Association had to give up the building since the rental income was insufficient to cover the mortgage. However, enough funds were immediately raised to build another building at 140 E. Market Street. The association moved there in 1974.


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NEW YORK

The New York Lee Family Association was established circa 1900. It purchased a building at 69 Mott Street under the name of The Association of the Lee Co., Inc. In 1977, it purchased a 6-story concrete building at 41 Mott Street in the heart of Chinatown. It remodeled the building and used the 5th and 6th floors as the Eastern Regional Headquarters for the Lee Family Associations. The legal owner of this building is the "Lee Property Corporation", which was authorized to sell 200 shares of stock. The New York Lee Family Association has 10 shares and the balance of the 190 shares have not been distributed.


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LOS ANGELES

The Los Angeles Lee Family Association was established circa 1900. It purchased an old building in 1951 with the intention of remodeling it and using it for the Lee Family Association. However, in 1952 at the 4th Lee National Convention in Sacramento, it decided instead to sell the building and purchase another one. It purchased the building at 964 N. Hill Street in 1954. It moved in following remodeling in 1961.


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BOSTON

The Boston Lee Family Association was established circa 1911. It purchased a building at 50 Beach Street with a number of Lees as Partners. The 2nd floor was used as the Lee Family Association and the storefront was used for a retail business, Sun Chong Lung. In 1960, the Association purchased its own building at 10 Tyler Street and moved into the 2nd and 3rd floors.


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CHICAGO

The Chicago Lee Family Association was established circa 1915. It purchased its first building at 2225 S. Wentworth Ave in 1945. A sum of $44,800 was raised for this building. Excess funds were used to purchase seven commercial stores near Chinatown. These stores were later purchased by the City for freeway development.


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HOUSTON

The Lee Family Association in Houston was established in 1967 with Mr. Lester Lee as its first president. In 1972, the Association purchased and moved into a house at 6714 East Mt. Houston Road on a six-acre lot for $62,210. This building was later sold for $150,000. However, the buyer could not keep up with the payments, and as a result, the Lee Association repossessed the building. The Lee Family Association now has about $130,000 to purchase a better site.


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OAKLAND

The Oakland Lee Family Association was established in 1971 at 377-B 8th Street, on the 2nd floor. It purchased its first building at 377-397 12th Street in 1971. This was a three story building on a 100 x 100 foot lot. The Association moved into this building in 1978. However, the building was damaged in the 1989 earthquake. The association rebuilt its building in 1997 and moved into this building in 1998.


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WASHINGTON D.C. & PHILADELPHIA

These two cities have their own buildings, but there is no mention in the National Convention Journals about how and when the cities purchased their buildings. According to some of the Lee Elders, funds were raised locally to purchase these buildings.


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BALTIMORE & SEATTLE

There were many Lees who lived in these two areas at one time. The members of the Lee Associations were very active. As time passed, the younger generations moved out of these areas to find better jobs. Neither Baltimore nor Seattle has a Lee Association building or income. Due to the lack of income and a gathering place, the activities of the Lee Associations are very limited. We hope some day that these two cities will have enough Lees and can raise enough funds to purchase a Lee Association building of their own.


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TUSCON & COURTLAND

There is a Lee Correspondence Office in Tucson and Courtland. In Tucson, there is mainly Elder Jerry Lee's family, and in Courtland, there is mainly Lincoln Chan Lee's family. I hope these two families will grow, and there will be enough Lees to build their own Lee Association building.


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FIRST NATIONAL CONVENTION

In 1927, the Lee Family Associations in the United Stated held their First National Convention in San Francisco. There were 46 delegates from the following cities: San Francisco, New York, Boston, Pittsburgh, Portland, Seattle, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Sacramento, Fresno, and Chicago.

There were three very important resolutions:

  1. All Lee Organizations will change its name to "Lee Family Association".
  2. All Lee Lung Se Tong in San Francisco will change its name to the "Lee Family Association, Headquarters". The Lee Lung Se Tong in New York will change its name to the "Lee Family Association, Branch Headquarters".
  3. There should be a National Convention regularly, but no definite time span was specified. (These summaries are based on information obtained from the National Convention Journals.)

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                                       San Francisco Lee Federal Credit Union.