The Lee Building at 131 East Pender Street, a central arcaded ‘Chinese style’ building, was built in 1907 or 1908 by the Lee Lung Sai Business Company. It was one of the earliest “Family Association” buildings in Chinatown. All the money raised to build the structure was provided by people with the surname of Lee, mainly from the Canton Province of China. The Lee building held a small office for the Lee’s Association, while the rest was used by importers, retail merchants, and restaurants.
In 1971, the Lee Building was recognised with Vancouver heritage status as part of the area’s historic area designation. In 1972, it was almost completely destroyed by fire. Robert Lee decided to rebuild it, including the restoration of the facade as a free-standing frame, with a new building behind it. In 1973, rebuilding was completed.
After the 1972 fire, the Lee’s Association rented an office space in the 200 Block of East Georgia street where the entrance to Sun Wah Cantre is located.
Subsequently, the Lee’s Benevolent Association of Canada moved to it’s own building at 313 East Pender Street in 1987 or 1988.
The current building serves many functions:
3rd floor: Memorial Hall.
2nd floor: Regular board meetings, Ladies choirs and the Athletic Society.
1st floor: Entertainment and social gatherings for members.