The Weaverville Joss House, a Taoist Temple of Worship, is now a state park and is the oldest still-in-use Chinese Temple in California. The adjoining priest's quarters and community meeting room was also a combination social hall, fraternity house and travelers' hotel, and served as a home for the priest and his family.
The current Joss House was built in 1874, after previous structures had been destroyed by a series of fires. After many of the contents of the temple were taken during a robbery in 1934, the historical significance of the temple and its contents were realized, and in 1938, Moon Lee, a descendant of an early Chinese settler, was named trustee for the Joss House. By 1956, now fully preserved, the temple became a state park. Except for electric lights and protective railings, the interior of the Joss House is the same as it was over 100 years ago, although improvements have been made to the adjoining grounds. These include a visitor center, parking lot, and the Kuan Yin pool.
Among them were a pair of Lion Dogs, or "Dogs of Foo", stolen in the early 20th century. One day in 1989, a box was mysteriously left at the visitor center. Inside was one of the original Dogs of Foo. By now, relations with the Republic of China had been normalized for several years, and the Weaverville Joss House Association commissioned craftsmen on the Chinese mainland to create two new pair, which are now on display inside the temple.
Although the Temple is a house of worship, services are not held in the manner in which we are accustomed from western Christianity. It is used by followers of Taoism to consult the gods on an individual basis.
The true historical significance of the Joss House is that during China's Cultural Revolution, many of the old rural-style temples were dismantled or destroyed. The Weaverville Joss House is an intact and complete temple of that era, which no longer exists in many parts of China.
New Hours: Thursday and Saturday only, from 10am to 5pm. Visits to the Visitor Center are free. There is a fee for tours of the Joss House itself.
Contact the Joss House State Historical Park at (530) 623-5284