The Dalles Chinatown Site, The Dalles








Chinatown Archaeological Site, The Dalles


  • Dates of Significance: 1865-1930
  • Address: 200 block E. First Street
  • Designation: Located within National Register historic district

News and Updates

December 2014

The Dalles Urban Renewal Agency voted for a third extension of the Granada Block Redevelopment project. The proposed development includes a large hotel, restaurant, and conference center; much of the proposed project will be built on the Chinatown archaeological site.

January 19, 2014

Preservation Magazine features Chinatown

July 24, 2013

Design Revised for Proposed Hotel Planned for Chinatown Site

May 1, 2013

Hilton Eyes Granada Block

March 13, 2013

Letter To The Editor: Working For History


Opium Pipe Bowl found at The Dalles Chinatown Site
The Dalles Chinatown is a highly significant archaeological site located on the south side of East First Street between Washington and Court Streets. The site may be the best preserved, and most extensive, historic ethnic urban archeological site in the state. It has a rich and unique story to tell with two extant buildings and an undisturbed deposit of below-ground archaeological resources that tell the story of the Chinese experience in Oregon.


Historic photo at 1st and Washington in The Dalles
As The Dalles began to emerge as a commercial center for river and overland traffic in the 1850s, the 200 block of E First Street was home to some of the community’s first buildings. As the city grew, the block was rapidly developed with hotels, saloons, restaurants, barbershops, dry goods stores, shoe shops, grocers, cigar stores, and liquor shops. Following the construction of the transcontinental railroad down First Street, the one-block site rapidly transformed into a tight-knit Chinatown.

By the late 1880s, Chinatown provided goods and services to the local community and the migrant Chinese population. Some of the merchants and residents became well-known and respected members of the community, however their are largely missing from the history books. By the early 1900s, The Dalles’ Chinese population was on the decline, and by the late 1920s many of the buildings in Chinatown had become vacant.

The Chinatown site today retains two original buildings: the much-altered Bloch, Miller and Company Building (1865) and the Chew Kee and Company Building (1879). The remainder of the site is capped by surface parking.

Why it’s Endangered

The Dalles Urban Renewal Agency owns the Chinatown site with the exception of the Chew Kee and Company Building. In 2012, a proposal to build a five-story hotel on the eastern half of the block began raising questions about architectural compatibility, district character, and protection of archaeological resources. In April, the Urban Renewal Agency entered into an agreement with a private developer to construct a hotel and conference center on the site, but designs and a plan for interpreting Chinatown’s history have yet to be shared. The Bloch, Miller and Company Building is not protected by the local preservation ordinance and adequate interpretation of archaeological resources hinges on the will of project stakeholders.

Our Near-term Goals

The proposed hotel development could bring needed redevelopment and fill in some of Chinatown’s missing teeth along E First Street. Restore Oregon will advocate that the development be designed to support the historic character of the district, help tell the story of Chinatown, and include mitigation of the archeological artifacts.

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Statewide Partner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

Cut and paste this letter and add your personal comments. In addition to your Representative and Senator, send a copy to and to the Senate Finance Committee:



Senator or Representative Name



Dear ________,

Our historic downtown is the cultural and economic core of the community and members of our downtown business association and city government are working hard to bring the district back to life.  But the cost of much-needed building restoration, code compliance, and seismic retrofitting remains financially out of reach in many cases.

[insert personal comments or an example of a needy building here. ie ] is an example.

We urge you to support and advocate for The Revitalize Main Street Act (SB 565) as a modest, cost-effective investment that will help revitalize our downtown and pay dividends for decades to come in the form of new jobs, income and property taxes, cultural heritage and tourism, business incubation, seismic safety, and the reuse of existing infrastructure.

The Revitalize Main Street Act creates a state Historic Rehabilitation Fund to provide a 25% rebate for the certified rehabilitation of historic commercial buildings – stores, hotels, theaters, apartments, factories, mills, etc.  It would be funded by the public auction of state income tax credits (similar to the Oregon Film Production Credit) at a capped amount of $12M per year.  The money stays here in Oregon and we end up with long term, tangible assets.

An economic impact study conducted by EcoNorthwest states that Oregon would be economically better off with this incentive.  In 2018 with a state investment of just $10.6M we would see:

  • 4X more buildings restored than without the state incentive.
  • 1,369 jobs per year generating income of $25.5M.
  • $2.3M net increase in property taxes per year to pay for schools and services.
  • $13.3M new federal Historic Tax Credit dollars invested in Oregon per year.
  • $35.8M net annual increase in direct development spending.

Historic rehabilitation incentives have been proven effective in 35 other states as a targeted means to attract private investment and capture more federal tax credit dollars. This is particularly important in smaller towns.

It’s time for the state to invest in Oregon’s Main Streets and pass the Revitalize Main Street Act in 2015.




Title/Business (if appropriate)


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