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Overfelt Gardens: The Chinese Cultural Garden

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Post Date:05/21/2020 1:00 PM

Adapted from a 1977 article written in the Santa Clara Metro by Raymond Cullen

The City of San José hosts many monu­ments to peoples and organizations, such as the Rosicrucian Museum, the Rose Garden, the Japanese Friendship Garden, Lick Ob­servatory, and the San José Historical Mu­seum, to name but a few.

One of the newest is the Chinese Cultu­ral Garden, situated on five of the thirty five acres donated to the city by Mrs. Mildred Overfelt.

To have some insight into the creation of this segment of the overall Gardens, is to un­derstand the dedication and drive some of the peoples of the City of San José have put them­selves through.

The people of Taiwan China (Formosa), have given to the people of San José two of China's most formidable symbols of culture and tradition; A fifteen foot tall statue, (in bronze) of Confucius, and a fifteen foot tall pedestle of marble and concrete. The total height of some thirty feet, graciously standing in a placid reflecting pond.

The second, and as imposing as the statues is the Great Gate, which will mark the entrance to the Chinese Cultural Gardens, lo­cated inside San Josés’ Overfelt Botanical Garden. The Gardens are located on McKee Rd. between Jackson Ave. and King Rd. 


Santa Clara Metro in October 1977 by Raymond Cullen


This Great Gate is the symbol of the merging of two worlds, of two cultures. That all people should be in harmony with each other. This Great Gate, is an awesome forty by fifty foot arched portal that embodies the strength and beauty of China, and it is set in a spot that commands view perfect for lovers and photographers, also it is an excellent place to stroll and view the flowers.

This magnificent structure was designed in Taiwan and shipped to San José piece by piece, over thirty-six tons. The arch and roof are made of reinforced concrete with white marble facade, with gold-glazed pottery tile, handmade. The roof also consists of Chinese Juniper that is only cut after it has grown for five hundred years, making this wood priceless. This wood is most desease-free, en­hancing its worth and quality. Look closely at the wood and see the exquisite hand carvings and paintings.

The value of the Great Gate is up to $150,000, and the construction of the Gate is under the direction of Enginner Lin Jui -Hsiung, (pronouced Lin Ju-a Shong) and con­tractor Allen Wong. Both of these gentlemen are masters of their trade.

Mr. Frank G. Lowe is the Chairman of the Chinese Cultural Gardens, along with his very pretty wife. Mrs. Pauline Lowe and one of the Chinese Cultural Gardens, along with his spearheading the drive to share some expres­sion of cultural ties between the United States and China.

Frank and Pauline got things started in 1971, after deciding that they wanted to share their Chinese culture with others. It wasn’t un­til April 11, 1973 that the concept for the Chinese Cultural Garden was accepted by the City Council of San José. That same year, Frank, his wife and son went to Taiwan with their idea. The people of Taiwan were elated and eagerly set in motion the process of do­nating these two wonderful structures to the City of San José and the United States.

The first of these two beautiful works to arrive was the statue of Confucius. The second is the awesome and inspiring Great Gate. Not only did these gifts come from the people of Taiwan, but Confucius-Mencius So­ciety of Taiwan too. The Great Gate was modeled from a structure that stands on the land where Confucius was born.

 Confucius Statue- Overfelt

Now that the Great Gate and the statue of Confucius are erected the next projects that the Lowe family is working on are a Pagoda, a Tea House, a Cultural Center and a Library. In addition, the Lowe family is hopeful that they can obtain for the city of San José, a mannikin display of the key Emperors of China, spanning 5000 years of their and our history. 

This display gives the people of the world and those of us here in San José a look at history, as we’ve never seen before. The mannikins are garbed in the clothing of their time. One startling factor lies in the fact that these Emperors were for the most part six tall and over. In this display there is one Empress, showing that women did their part in govern­ing right along with the men.

This writer supports the efforts of the Lowes, the Chinese People of San José, Con­struction Chairman Sam Della Maggiore, Contractor Allen Wong, the Director of Engineering Lin Jui-Hsiung of Taiwan, and all of the people of San José, who are the recipi­ents of these gifts and gestures.

May peoples of all callings, of all persua­sions enjoy these gifts that touch so aptly the common man so humbly.

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