Nonprofits Pick up the Pieces After the Devastating Chinatown Fire

Posted on: March 10th, 2020 at 5:07 am by

Photo: Karlin Chan

City contractors on Sunday began the task of retrieval at 70 Mulberry Street, where a five-alarm fire decimated the 128-old school building.

After weeks of clearing debris and stabilizing weakened floors and ceilings, the site is safe enough to dig for surviving archives from the Museum of Chinese in America, as well as materials salvaged from H. T. Chen Dance Center and the United East Athletic Association. Literally picking up the pieces.

Photo: Karlin Chan

Contractors arrived on schedule, as promised, at 6:30am Sunday morning. While some accessed the UEAA and Chen Dance company’s space through the main staircase, others gained entry via exterior fire escapes adjacent to the second floor of the MOCA archive room. Teams proceeded to methodically remove box after box of archives. Enough to fill two 30-foot trucks to bound for air conditioned facilities for preservation.

Much to the relief of H. T. Chen, the white statue of Buddha survived. The eponymous owner proudly hoisted the sculpture, but was told that his main storage area for stage props and costumes remains inaccessible and they would have to wait longer.

Photo: Karlin Chan

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