Poy Gum Lee

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Poy Gum Lee
Born(1900-01-14)January 14, 1900
DiedMarch 24, 1968(1968-03-24) (aged 68)
NationalityAmerican, Chinese
Other namesPoy Lee, Lee Poy Gum,
Jinpei Li
Alma materPratt Institute
Spouse(s)Pansy Choye Lee
Parent(s)Lee Yick Dep, Ng Lan Yin
PracticeYoung Men’s Christian Association’s China Building Bureau, New York City Housing Authority
BuildingsChinese Consolidated Benevolent Association
ProjectsSun Yat-sen Mausoleum, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall

Poy Gum Lee (Chinese: 李錦沛; pinyin: Lǐ Jǐnpèi; 1900–1968) was a Chinese-American architect. Lee is known for his Art Deco buildings with Chinese architectural influence or "Chinese Deco" in Shanghai, China and New York City's Chinatown, New York.

Early life and education[edit]

In January 1900, Lee was born on 13 Mott Street in New York City's Chinatown, New York. Lee's parents were Lee Yick Dep and Ng Lan Yin (also known as Ng She). Lee is the eldest child and he had 14 sibling.[1][2][3][4][5] He grew up at 32 Mott Street above the family store in the Chinatown neighborhood in New York City.[6][5]

In 1920, Lee earned a degree in Architecture from Pratt Institute. Lee took architecture extension classes at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1921 and later at Columbia University in 1922.[3]


During World War I, he served in the United States Army.[7]

By 1923, Lee and his family moved to China where he worked on various architecture projects and earned him admiration for his work.[3]

He worked as an architect in China for 25 years.[7] Hired by the Young Men’s Christian Association’s China Building Bureau, he worked on 11 buildings for the YMCA and YWCA in China and also working on the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum (1926-1929) and Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall (1929-1931).[3][7]

During World War II, Lee and his family lived in the French Concession neighborhood in Shanghai, China, where his home was confiscated by the Japanese. After World War II, Lee and his family returned to New York, United States.[1]

Lee worked primarily in Chinatown in New York after his return to the U.S. and worked with the New York City Housing Authority.[1] Some of the postwar projects he worked on included; Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association building in New York City (1959), On Leong Tong Merchant’s Association building (1948-1950), Kimlau Memorial Arch - a Chinese American WWII Monument in Kimlau Square (1962), and Pagoda Theatre (1963).[8][2]

Personal life[edit]

In 1926, Lee married Pansy Choye in Shanghai, China. They have three daughters.[3]

On March 24, 1968, Lee died in Bakersfield, California. He was 68 years old. Lee is buried at Greenlawn Cemetery in Bakersfield, California.[7][9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Kahn, Eve M. (September 10, 2015). "The Architect Poy Gum Lee Finally Has a Retrospective". nytimes.com. Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Poy Gum Lee Walking Tour". urbanarchive.org. May 7, 2019. Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e Nellist, George Ferguson Mitchell (1935). Men of Shanghai and North China: A Standard Biographical Reference Work. The University Press.
  4. ^ Prengel, Kate (2016-03-02). "The Architect Who Melded Tradition and Modernism in New York's Chinatown". Hyperallergic Magazine. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  5. ^ a b Chinese Style: Rediscovering the Architecture of Poy Gum Lee 1923–1968, September 24 2015 - January 31, 2016 (PDF). New York: Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA). 2015. Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  6. ^ Van Norden, Warner M. (1918). Who's Who of the Chinese in New York. University of Michigan. Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  7. ^ a b c d "Funeral Scheduled for China Architect Poy Lee". Bakersfield Californian News. 1968-03-26.
  8. ^ "Chinese Style: Rediscovering the Architecture of Poy Gum Lee, 1923-1968". Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA). 2015. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  9. ^ "Poy G Lee". Find a Grave. Retrieved August 5, 2020.

External links[edit]