Built in 1860 for Sam Choy, this brick and stone building in Angels Camp Chinatown, served as a Chinese store until 1892. East of the historic Hotel Angels, along Bird’s Way to Angels Creek, once sat Angels Camp Chinatown. Angels Camp Chinatown consisted of about 20 properties, these included: three stores, lodging houses, gambling dens, opium dens, a wash house, and Chinese gardens. To eat and sell in the local market, Chinese grew vegetables in gardens along Angels Creek, and raised hogs and ducks. Only Sam Choy’s store remains of Angels Camp Chinatown.
Although Chinese primarily consisted of single male miners who lived in lodging houses, a few Chinese merchant-class families existed. Records show in 1880 that Sam Choy (age 45) had a Chinese wife (age 31), and two daughters (age 10 and 8), who were both born in California. Three years later in 1883, Choy sent his daughters to China, a foreign country to the girls, and his wife likely followed.
Choy was an extremely successful businessman. He initially opened a store in a booming, placer mining Chinese community on the Stanislaus River. He had a house, a lot on Main Street in Angels Camp, and 5 other houses, two of which served as gambling houses.
Choy also supplemented his income by serving as a middleman between the mine owners and Chinese workers. Choy collected money from mine owners, and then provided work to Chinese miners. Although Choy paid the Chinese miners from the money he collected from the mine owners, Choy likely made a hefty profit after deducting his costs and profits from the food, clothing, lodging, tools, and prostitutes he provided for the Chinese miners. Sam Choy sold this brick and stone building in 1892, and eventually left Angels Camp between 1905 and 1909.
After Choy sold the story, the building became: a brothel for a Chinese prostitute, a city jail, a legal office, a leather store, and in 2016 it became unoccupied.
Access directions: At the southern part of Angels Camp along Highway 49 town, turn east on Birds Way. The narrow alleyway of Birds Way lies about 100 feet north of the intersection of Highway 49 and Highway 4. No parking is available, and therefore the easiest way to access the site is to park along Main Street (Highway 49), and walk to the site.