Because of its long maritime involvement, the province of Guangdong in Southeast China accounted for the bulk of 19th century Chinese immigration to the United States. More than 80% of the Chinese in the United States trace their roots to a small region in Guangdong Province about the size of the San Francisco Bay area. Most of the early families of the CCBA were immigrants from this area.
HISTORY OF THE CHINESE IN AUGUSTA, GEORGIA
In 1873 an Indianapolis construction company contracted and brought to Augusta, Georgia about 200 Chinese male laborers to widen and deepen the Augusta canal. When the project was completed 2 years later, most of these men drifted off to work elsewhere. The few who remained opened grocery stores in the Augusta area.
The 1880 Census reported 10 Chinese living in Augusta (out of a total of 17 in Georgia) and 8 Chinese grocery stores. By 1900 Augusta’s Chinese population increased to 41 people. There were now 29 Chinese grocery stores and 8 laundries. During these early years there were virtually no Chinese families in Augusta due to the Chinese Exclusion Acts which strictly regulated Chinese immigration including women and children to the United States.
In 1885 the First Baptist Church of Augusta began a Chinese Sunday school to minister to the men living in Augusta. It is one of the oldest organized Chinese Sunday schools in the nation and continues today, having served the Chinese community for over 120 years.
The nucleus of the present day community of CCBA families began around 1915 with the arrival of wives and families to Augusta . Augusta’s Chinese community began to grow and the 1940 Census reported a Chinese population of 224 and 63 grocery stores. Even though the Chinese population continued to grow, the number of grocery stores began a slow, steady decline starting the the 1950s. These grocery stores are no longer in operation today.
HISTORY OF THE CCBA
Fifty-nine local Chinese men signed a petition in 1927 to charter the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of Augusta. The Association met in several locations until 1939 when it acquired a vacant Lutheran Church built in 1859. This facility became and remains today as the hub and focus of the CCBA community. Chinese schools, banquets, weddings, and numerous events have been held in this building throughout the years. The building has undergone numerous renovations and is continuously being renovated to meet the changing needs of the CCBA community.
Beginning in the 1970s, Augusta saw an influx of Chinese professionals who later formed the CSRA Chinese Association. This trend accelerated in recent years due to an increase of Chinese students and faculty members at the Medical College of Georgia. There are now three Chinese associations in Augusta: the CCBA, the CSRA Chinese Association, and the GRU Chinese Students and Scholars Association.
HISTORY OF THE CCBA HALL
In February 1859 the St. Mathews German Lutheran Church was formed and purchased a lot at 548 Walker Street for $1200 to build a sanctuary. Construction began in July 1859 and the church was built at a cost of $6800. There was no electricity at that time. Two large windows in front and eight large windows on the sides provided light and air.
In the following years, renovations were made to the church.
- In 1874 a parsonage was built to the left of the church.
- In 1893 a brick Sunday School building consisting of a large assembly room and a stage was added to the back of the church.
- In 1896 extensive renovations were made to include an electric light system, a hot water heating system (radiators), cementing on the building exterior to look like stone and carpeting.
- In 1902 a recess alcove, primary room and library were added to the Sunday School.
In 1921 St. Mathews merged with Holy Trinity to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Resurrection and a new sanctuary was built in 1926 on Greene Street. Over the next 13 years, the Walker Street building was used by other churches and changed ownership several times. The CCBA bought the property in February 1939 for $1,275. The parsonage was not included in the sale.
Extensive renovations were made in 1953 and again in 1977.
- The Sunday School assembly room became our gym.
- A new kitchen, bathrooms, front room carpet, and central heat and air were installed.
- The open balcony at the entrance of the church was enclosed.
- The large windows that originally provided air and light in both the front room and gym were blocked up.
- A modern kitchen was built in the area of the stage.
- Central air and heat replaced individual gas heaters and fans placed along the boundaries of the front room and gym.
- The high ceiling in the front room was lowered.
- The front room walls were paneled.
This grand, old church has slowly evolved into our modern day facility.