Lowell’s Chin Lee Restaurant and Some History

Thanks to reader Maxine Farcus for forwarding this great 1949 holiday-time photo showing Lowell’s first and longtime favorite “downtown” Chinese restaurant Chin Lee’s. The sign is at Kearney Square marking an earlier location. By the time it closed it was located on Merrimack Street upstairs on the 2nd floor adjacent to the 5 and 10 – F.W. Woolworth’s. For more information on the Chinese in Lowell, please link through to the UML/Center for Lowell History and read UML Professor Shehong Chen’s 2003 work – Reconstructing the  Chinese American Experience  in Lowell, Massachusetts,  1870s – 1970s. Here: http://library.uml.edu/clh/Asian/Asian2.htm

10 Responses to Lowell’s Chin Lee Restaurant and Some History

  1. Barbara Bond says:

    Marie….if my memory serves me, it was on the second floor but it was right after the Union National Bank and not before it next to the 5 & 10! Not only was their Chinese food excellent but they had great fried clams too!! ;-)

  2. Marie says:

    Barbara – I’m sure that you are right! The UNB was in between. I was never in the restaurant but remember when I worked there (1960-1964 while at LSC) that the girls from Woolworh’s loved going there. I think it closed in the late 1960s.

  3. John Quealey says:

    I reemember going to Chin Lee’s restaurant which was over Ligetts Drug store as Barbara said. I went with the Stack boys (R.I.P.) from the grove in my early teens. The only thing that appealed to me on the menu was jello with whip cream. One of my favorite places was the Plaza where I would occasionly meet the man from the grove the kindly Mr. Kirwin. Marie’s Grandfather.

  4. Bob McCarthy says:

    Whoa, such intact memories. Indeed across from Scott’s Jewelers and not Brigham’s. I’m kinda thinking even in those olden days, the marble stairs were fairly ‘cupped’ from wear….maybe a red door? Great picture…if expanded a little, wouldn’t one see the fruit/veggy boxes of Brockelman’s(sp?) on the other side of Bridge. Had to admire those ‘big’ bells holding on so tight in the wind as we crisscrossed the intersection on the red-yellow pedestrain light.

  5. Steve says:

    There’s a picture from another angle in volume one of Jay
    Pendergast’s book of Lowell photos. It was taken on VJ Day, Merrimack
    Street is packed withcelelbrating Lowellians.

  6. bob mccarthy KA '58 says:

    When Chin Lee’s first existed, I hear it was upstairs at the corner of Merrimack and Bridge suggested by the pic . Here you are on Bridge looking toward Merrimack and the original SUN building. Turning right on Merrimack and BETWEEN the corner and the 5&10s was a cafeteria style restaurant (Astoria?). Beyond that then, there was Kresge’s 5&10, the entry to the upper levels of the Hildreth Building, then Woolworth’s 5&10, then the Union National Bank, then, per Babs, Marie, & John the red (now gray) door up to Lee’s above Ligett’s drug store (which had a slightly inclined bit of tile just before the doorway). Check this Google Map http://tinyurl.com/n3p8m2f (now Cravings). (While I just missed it, I believe the very first of CVSs opened in the early ’60s where Kresge’s was.) Scott’s Jewelers and the bus stop for the Highlands was across the street from the bank (Merrimack used to be 2-Way!) and Green’s 5&10 was across Central on Merrimack. Brighams Ice Cream/restaurant was next door. It was a time when lights shown red AND yellow for crossing…everywhichway! On the backside of the 5&10s and cafeteria, there is Page St. with what was its infamous ‘underground’ toilets!!! Say! was it a bit prejudicial? While Gals and Guys had pay booths, didn’t the men have ‘free’ urinals? I’m just askin’! (Besides dropping ‘big bucks’ after school every day at Brigham’s, we also hooked up kitty-korner from the Bon Marche at the Dutch Tea and 2 blocks down Central at the Ep (icure)…we being coeds from LHS, non-jocks for Keith Academy, uber-ethnic gals from K Hall/St. L & P, and Ladies from Notre Dame (‘a’ as in arm)…check the color of their disfiguring ‘jumpers’ !

  7. Janet Adams Pak says:

    Thank’s for this page. Chin Lee’s was a place my Mom took us to. Dad was away in the Navy WW2. it was a special treat. The food was great. As I remember it was “upstairs” I believe the movie theatre was across the street. Downtown Lowell.. I went to school with Henry Chin. I believe it was his uncle’s restaurant . I lost contact with him. He had come over from China sometime before or after the invasion of the Japanese. He was in Elementary school for a short time I believe to help his English skills. He soon moved up (we didn’t have the special classes in school then to help ESL children)