History of the Palo Alto Buddhist Temple

A place, almost anyplace, can be turned into a very special place if there are very special people with a dream, a heart for compassion and gratitude, and a will, determination and tenacity to carry out their common goal. So it was in Palo Alto, too, that a very special place evolved over a period of 90 years. Here are some landmark events:

● The Alta Mesa Memorial Park, on a lovely spring day in 1914, where a special group of very concerned and dedicated Issei (first generation) stalwarts discussed with a dedicated minister from San Francisco the possibility of starting a Buddhist place of worship in Palo Alto.

● The homes of a group of generous believers where the earliest Buddhist services were held in 1914.

● The Kaneda Home Laundry, until 1915, when the growing numbers of believers had to be accommodated at a larger place.

● The home on Ramona Street rented from 1925 to 1927 by the ever growing number of members. The women members formed the first Fujinkai (women's club) and the younger members formed the young people's group. Buddhist education classes (Dharma School) were started for children.

● Another home on Ramona Street purchased in 1927, served as a temple for the still increasing numbers of Palo Alto Buddhists until the outbreak of the war and subsequent internment in 1942.

● The internment camps from 1942 until 1945, where the Palo Alto Buddhists continued to follow, under most trying conditions, the Teachings of the Buddha.

● The homes of the members in 1945, when a few Palo Alto Buddhists returned and quickly resumed their Buddhist activities.

● The Native Sons Hall downtown in 1946, when more of the faithful Buddhist members returned from the internment camps. The Dharma School was resumed.

● The old Japanese-American Society Building, in 1947, where the ever-devoted community of members (the Sangha), restored the remaining organizations in the temple.

● The empty lot purchased in 1953, where our first temple was to be built by the dedicated and devoted Sangha.

● The new temple dedicated in 1954, for the first time, was able to retain its own minister. Previously, all the temple services and activities were overseen by truly dedicated, generous, and overworked "itinerant" ministers who came from other temples near and far. The devoted work of these very special people provided the inspiration and the incentive for the Palo Alto Sangha to continue on the path to a greater understanding of Buddhism. Our debt to them can never be fully repaid, but their noble effort and thoughts will always continue to inspire and guide us.

● The new Dharma School building built in 1964 to accommodate the constantly growing number of young people in our Sangha.

● The minister's residence finally built in 1968, by a grateful Sangha.

NOTE: For further detailed historical information, see references in the temple library.