Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Photography: 15 Pell Street, New York Chinatown


Part of 15 Pell Street (left) and a section of Doyers Street were photographed by the Byron Company. The glass negative is at the Library of Congress


In the photograph, the sign of “Wing Hong Yuen 15 Pell St.” is clearly visible. I believe the photograph was made between 1900 and 1904. The Trow New York Copartnership and Corporation Directory, Boroughs of Manhattan and Bronx, March 1900, listed two businesses at 15 Pell Street: Wing Hing & Co. and Wing Wo Tai & Co. A few months later they were replaced. The New York World, September 15, 1900, published a list of Chinatown contributors to the Galveston Flood. Wing Hong Yuen donated five dollars and its name was misspelled “Wing Hong Yhem” (top of the second column).






The photograph was printed in Collier’s, February 4, 1905, on page 15. (The reproduction is very dark.)

Scan from author’s collection

The photograph was also used by the Detroit Publishing Company which produced postcards. The company obtained a title copyright according to the Catalogue of Title Entries of Books and Other Articles, Volume 45, Engravings, Cuts, and Prints, Number 34, August 24, 1905. 
In Chinatown, New York. 8984. (F 33398, Aug. 3, 1905.) 71458

Text: 8984. In Chinatown, New York
Copyright, 1905, by Detroit Publishing Co.


The postcard had an entry in the Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Part 4, Engravings, Cuts, and Prints, New Series, Volume 1, Number 20, September 20, 1906. 
In Chinatown, New York. 8984. (F 45115, Aug. 30, 1906; 2 c. Aug. 30, 1906.) 4203

Wing Hong Yuen was mentioned on page 2 of the New York Evening Post, April 26, 1905.
Tom Lee Arrested
... Around on Pell Street, Wing Hong Yuen, who steers his frail canoe so carefully in the troublesome waters of Chinatown that he is the friend of all and never bumps into other craft, smiled all over his chubby, fat face when he was approached.

But, singularly enough, Wing had never heard of Tom Lee until to-day, and was seeking rather than giving information.
Below are some of the 15 Pell Street tenants from 1894 to 1898.

New York Sunday World, December 9, 1894, page 28
A Model Chinaman Is Choy Dung
... No bloated capitalist living upon the unearned increment is he, but with characteristic thrift he has hired out his services to the syndicate of which he is a member, and although officially the treasurer of the firm and the custodian of all its funds, he every night dons an apron and is the brightest and most alert of the waiters in the restaurant at No. 15 Pell street, one of the show places of Chinatown. ...
Hue Kai & Co. (Hue Kai, no Co) 15 Pell
Trow’s New York City Directory, July 1, 1896
Wing Tuck, meat, 15 Pell
Sun Kee & Co. 15 Pell
Trow’s New York City Directory, July 1, 1897
Sun Kee & Co. grocers, 15 Pell
Wing Wo Tai & Co. 15 Pell
Trow’s New York City Directory July 1, 1898
Wing Wo Tai & Co. grocers, 15 Pell
New York Tribune, December 29, 1898, page 5.
Festivities in Chinatown.
Hope Mission Children Give Their Christmas Entertainment.

A Chinese Merchant Plays Selections on the Sun Instrument, and Boys and Girls Make Speeches.

At 7 o’clock on Tuesday evening Doyers-st. appeared as if a see was in progress, and the point of resistance, judging by the actions of the rescue mission, at No. 17. Crowds of children clamored around both of its doors yelling for admittance, and four big policemen lowered at them, but made no attempt to stop their assault on the doors, for it was the night of the Christmas entertainment of Hope Mission School and the Star of Hope Club, and the little ones had the freedom of Chinatown. ...

At Supper
A Chinese supper for thirty-four was given to the guests at the “Chinese Delmonico’s,” No. 15 Pell-st., after the entertainment. Among the dishes were chop suey, chow mang, boiled rice, rako mang, Oolong and dragon’s beard tea, Chinese lychees, pickled pineapple and various other strange dishes of pastry and sweetmeats.

H. A. Gould, one of the trustees of the work, gave each woman present a souvenir in the shape of a little plate, and then he spoke about the many branches of the work carried on by the New-York Rescue Band besides the children’s department. There is an uptown work for erring girls another in Chinatown, and a fresh-air work in Nyack. Among the many interesting things he said was that since the establishment of the mission the Police Department had taken off forty of the bluecoats who formerly enforced the law in Chinatown. Dr. Furry and the Rev. Mr. McNeill also spoke. A midnight visit was paid to the Chinese temple in Mott-st.

(Next post on Wednesday: San Francisco Chinatown, 1921)

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Henry Inn, Photographer

Henry Inn was born on February 3, 1898, in China, according to his World War I and II draft cards. The birth year 1899 was on his Social Security application. Inn’s birth name, Yuen Yun Joe, was recorded on passenger lists from 1909, 1922, 1926, 1932, 1935 and 1937. His World War II draft card had his name as Yuen Yen Joe. The Watumull Foundation Oral History Project conducted an interview with Inn on September 28, 1971. He did not give his Chinese name. East Asian Architecture in Globalization: Values, Inheritance and Dissemination (2021) had his Chinese name as 阮勉初 (Ruan Mianchu).

1909

1921

Inn’s parents were Yuen Kwock aka Fong Inn and Lau Shee. In Sojourners and Settlers: Chinese Migrants in Hawaii (1980), Clarence E. Glick explained the origin of the Inn surname. 
Although his real name was Yuen Kwock, he was known locally as Fong Inn after the name of the store he had established in 1903, and his son took Inn as a surname. 
Twelve-year-old Inn was aboard the Pacific Mail Steam Ship Korea when it departed Hong Kong on June 29, 1909. He arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii on July 20, 1909. The passenger list said he was born in Lam Bin Hee, Heungshan, China. The oral history said Inn was nine-years-old when he came to Hawaii in 1908.

Affidavit, testimony and Chinese inspector’s report from Yuen Yun Joe’s Chinese Exclusion Act Case File C-1757, San Bruno, California NARA

Affidavit, April 30, 1909

Testimony, July 30, 1909

Chinese Inspector’s Report, July 30, 1909

The 1910 United States census counted Inn (Yan Jow Yuen, line 36), his parents and younger brother in Honolulu at 1196 Nuuanu Street. His father was a bookkeeper at a furniture store. 


In the oral history, Inn said he attended the “Aliiolani School at Kaimuki”.

On October 26, 1918, Inn, as Henry Chow Yuen, signed his World War I draft card. His address was 1709 J Center Drive. He was a student at St. Louis College. Inn’s description was slender build, medium height, with dark brown eyes and black hair.


According to the 1920 census, Inn (line 6) was married to Helen Leong. They had an eight-month-old daughter. They were part of his father’s household that included Inn’s three siblings. Inn’s father managed an art store where he was a salesman. 


On October 28, 1921 the Chinese Students’ Alliance of Hawaii presented a stage production of “The Yellow Jacket” which featured a stage decorated by Inn

Inn was a passenger on the steam ship Wilhelmina when it departed Honolulu on January 4, 1922. The ship was bound for San Francisco, California. His 
Certificate of Identity application is below.

October 6, 1921

Inn visited China again. He returned on the steam ship President Wilson which departed Hong Kong on August 5, 1926. Fourteen days later he arrived at Honolulu. 

Inn, a bookkeeper, was Henry Yuen (line 6) in the 1930 census. He had four children and continued to live with parents and siblings. Their address was 1709 J Iliahi Lane. 


During the 1930s Inn made three trips to China. On January 8, 1932 he departed Shanghai and arrived in Honolulu on January 20, 1932. Inn’s second visit departed Shanghai on July 16, 1935. Ten days later he was in Honolulu. Both voyages were aboard the steam ship President Hoover. On the third trip Inn sailed on the Empress of Canada which left Hong Kong on January 26, 1937. He was back home on February 8, 1937. 

In the 1940 census, Henry Chow Inn (line 75) was the manager of a fine arts shop. His father was its president. The Inn family resided at 1709 J Iliahi Street in Honolulu.


On February 14, 1942, Inn signed his World War II draft card. His home address was unchanged. He was employed at Fong Inn’s Ltd., 2049 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu. Inn’s description was five feet five inches, 115 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair. 


According to the oral history, Inn was naturalized in 1944.

The 1950 census counted Inn (line 14), his wife and granddaughter in Honolulu at 2028 Mott-Smith Place. He was a manager of rental apartments. 



Inn was a photographer. Information about his training has not been found. Inn’s interest in photography may have been influenced by photographer Yew Char whose relationship with Fong Inn was told in The Mau Lineage (1989). 
In her youth, Helen Sau Ngam Mau was raised by the Fong Inn family, who owned and operated the elegant Fong Inn Store in Honolulu. Helen assisted with sales at the store where her future husband, Yew Char, was fascinated by her beauty. He arranged for Fong Inn to send her to attend the Virginia Intermount College, Bristol, Virginia, a girls’ finishing school located in the southwestern part of the state. After two years, “she left school when Yew Char took her to Washington, D. C. in 1923. He married her in the National Capital, bought a new car, and drove across the continent with one of her teachers riding with them!” This was told to his son, Washington Char, by Yew Char in 1982.
The first collection of Inn’s photographs appeared in the 1940 book, Chinese Houses and Gardens, which was edited by Shao Chang Lee and published by Fong Inn’s Limited. The dust jacket front flap said
A resident of Honolulu and a collector of Chinese Art, Mr. Inn has traveled widely in China through a number of years. This collection of pictures was taken in 1936, shortly before the start of the Sino-Japanese hostilities, and many, if not the majority, of the places shown are now utterly destroyed.

Professor Lee, who edited the book, Dr. Ch’en Shou-Yi, Dr. Wing-Tsit Chan, and Mr Chuin Tung, who contributed the articles, is each an expert in his field. 

It is hoped the plates and drawings will be of value, not only to students of Chinese Art, but to the people who are planning and building the American home today. 


In 1950 a revised edition was published by Hastings House and Bonanza Books. The dust jacket front flap said
Henry Inn of Honolulu, art collector, designer, and photographer, has here produced a collection of Chinese architectural pictures that is extraordinary. 

Probably it is the only record of its kind. Though photographed as recently as 1936, many of these houses and gardens are no more, for they have been bombed out of existence by Japanese invaders. 

Even more distinctive is the range of subject matter, for as a veteran traveler to his ancestral homeland, Mr. Inn was fortunate in an extraordinarily wide acquaintance, which gave him an entree into many of the best and most representative private homes throughout China. The combination of artistic skill with unusual opportunity had brought us a record of the architectural forms and traditions which are the cultural expression of the modern Chinese family. 

Supplementing the illustrative material are several fine treatises on Chinese philosophy and culture and their influence on the form of the Chinese dwelling. Contributors to this section are Editor S. C. Lee, Professors S. Y. Chen, W. T. Chan and Chuin Tung.

The 147 beautifully reproduced photographs, the 113 line drawings, and the five brilliant essays constitute an invaluable source book of design for the architect, the decorator, the homebuilder, the garden enthusiast, and every student of Chinese culture. 
Hastings House

Bonanza Books

The book was reviewed in T’ien Hsia Monthly, December–January 1940–41. 
The editors of this volume are Henry Inn, a resident of Honolulu and a collector of Chinese art, and Professor S. C. Lee of the Oriental Institute in the University of Hawaii. Part One of the book consists of articles dealing with various aspects of Chinese domestic landscape architecture. Professor Ch’en Shou-yi, whose learned study on “The Chinese Gardens in Eighteenth Century” was published in Tien Hsia four years ago (Vol. II, No. 4), outlines the factors which have transformed and reshaped houses and gardens in China from primitive times to the present day. Professor Wing-tsit Chen, who lectures on Chinese Philosophy at the University of Hawaii , writes on the philosophical conceptions which underlie the architecture of Chinese gardens. Professor S. C. Lee contributes an essay on the Chinese love of home and the use of symbolism in Chinese houses and gardens, illustrated by selections from Chinese literature, translated by himself. In addition to these articles, written especially for this book, there are Mr. Tung Chuin’s “Foreign Influence in Chinese Architecture” and “Chinese Gardens: Contrast Designs”. These have been reprinted from T’ien Hsia in which they originally appeared. 

The second part of the book consists of 242  photographs and drawings made by Mr. Inn, who in 1936 made a trip to his motherland, travelling from Canton to Peiping and from Shanghai to Wuchang, visiting many homes and gardens as well as famous scenic spots along the way. These pictures are mostly taken in places now under Japanese occupation, and looking at them therefore one cannot help experiencing a feeling of nostalgia, not unmixed with a bitterness against the invaders.” Heaven above; Soochow and Hangchow below”—all that was very true before the war, but enter the devils and these earthly paradises have become veritable hells! 

Both the printing and the make-up of the book are of the highest standard. The enterprising firm, Fong Inn’s Limited, is indeed to be congratulated upon bringing out a volume which every lover of things Chinese volume which every lover of things Chinese should be proud to acquire for his library.
Reviews also appeared in The Quarterly Review of Biology, June 1941; and Interiors, July 1950. 

Chinese Home Cooking: Recipes of Cantonese Dishes (1941) featured Inn’s photographs. The book was reissued by Paradise of the Pacific in 1945. 

1953 Fourth Edition

In 1944 Fong Inn’s Limited printed Tropical Blooms: A Portfolio of 40 Flower Prints from Photographs by Inn. 

Inn’s photographs of Hawaiian women were published by Hastings House, in 1945, under the title, Hawaiian Types

His photographs appeared or were mentioned in many publications including The Rotarian, January 1941; Popular Photography, October 1942; The Camera, 1943, here and here; Collier’s, December 11, 1943 (below); Honolulu Advertiser, December 17, 1943; Paradise of the Pacific, December 1944; Magazine of the Year, July 1947; U.S. Camera, April 1950 (below; see Hawaii Tribune-Herald, March 20, 1950); and Paradise of the Pacific, January 1962. 

Collier’s, December 11, 1943, pages 16–17,
“Hawaiian Medley”
… The photographs were made by Henry Inn, 
connoisseur of Chinese art and architecture, 
and joint proprietor with his father of the 
oldest Chinese antique shop in Honolulu. …

Magazine of the Year, July 1947, cover and 
pages 14–21, “One World on an Island”

U.S. Camera, April 1950

Inn’s wife passed away on November 11, 1951. An obituary appeared in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, November 15, 1951. In the oral history, Inn misspoke when he said she passed away in 1949. On July 16, 1953, Inn married Michelle Woo who had two daughters. 

Inn’s father passed away on November 5, 1963. On April 24, 1968, his mother passed away

Inn passed away on December 12, 1994, in Honolulu. He was laid to rest at Manoa Chinese Cemetery


Digital Archives of Hawai‘i, Hotels—Fong Inn’s Apts. 
Chronicling America, Fong Inn, 1903–1917
Chronicling America, Yuen Kwock, 1907–1915
The Friend, August 1915, Fong Inn Co. advertisement
Sunset, August 1916, Fong Inn Co. advertisement
Sunset, May 1917, Fong Inn Co. advertisement
The Arrowhead Magazine and Guide Book, February 1918, “Beautiful Hawaii”
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, April 30, 1925, Fong Inn Co advertisement
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, December 6, 1928, “Honor Two at Banquet Here”
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, February 8, 1930, “Elaborate Chinese Dinner Is Given by Inn Family”
Honolulu Advertiser, July 25, 1954, “He Pioneered Art Treasures”


(Next post on Wednesday: Chinese Theatre in New York Chinatown, 1903)