See Yup Society

The Chinese temple in South Melbourne (then called Emerald Hill) was built in 1856 by the See Yup Society.

In 1866 it was rebuilt and enlarged. The temple cost over four thousand pounds to construct and was funded by compulsory donations from Society members. The names of more than a thousand donors are inscribed on two stone tablets at the Temple. As the Society is legally a non-entity the six titles covering the temple land are held in the names of six individual trustees. The remainder of the donated money was invested in two properties in Little Bourke Street.

Still standing today, it was built as a meeting place for members but also includes two altars for worship and three memorial halls. The memorial halls hold over 13,000 tablets in commemoration of members who died and are buried somewhere in Victoria between 1850 to the present day. The Society held at least eight major religious services with offerings each year and the temple was open for all to visit or worship at all times. Although a temple it was not granted any rate exemptions for being a place of worship despite attempts in 1860 and 1912 until the early 1960s.

The financial organisation of the See Yup temples in Ballarat, Bendigo, Castlemaine, Beechworth and a number of other country towns were modelled on the South Melbourne temple. Each local See Yup society bought land whose title was held under the name of one or more trustees and built the temple.





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