Keep Oakland Beautiful Point of Interest: Asian Resource Center


Keep Oakland Beautiful Points of Interest remind us of how interesting and beautiful Oakland is and why we should care about protecting it.

Located at the corner of 8th St and Harrison St in Chinatown, the Asian Resource Center has a fascinating architecture and history. The large, rectangular building was built in the early 1920s by Edward Hebern as a factory to manufacture his recently patented, electric code machines. These machines would allow the user to create and decode secret messages. The targeted customers were the US military and other government agencies.

Hebern Code Machine

The Hebern Electric Code Machine.

Mr. Hebern was so sure that he could sell a lot of these machines that he built the three-story gothic building before he even had any orders for his machines. The building was sized to support 1,500 workers!

Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out too well for Mr. Hebern. The Army and Navy showed little interest in the Hebern Code Machines (the Navy bought a total of 12 machines) and the code machine itself was proven to be insecure. Subsequently, the building was repossessed and Mr. Hebern was charged with and convicted of fraud.

During the 1940s, the top floor of the building served as a factory where women sewed parachutes for the war effort.

The current owner, East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) bought the building in 1976 from the Lyon Storage and Moving Company. EBALDC had the building renovated and it became known as the Asian Resource Center in 1984. Today, it serves as space for various retail businesses, medical facilities, and offices.

Located in Oakland’s Chinatown, the building architecture is considered French gothic. The terra cotta exterior has many interesting architectural flourishes of a more Asian flare, including faces, lotus blossoms, snakes, and monkeys.


The Asian Resource Center has been a cornerstone of Oakland for almost a century and is now a City of Oakland Landmark.

Keeping Oakland Beautiful is everybody’s business.

We encourage you to share your thoughts in the reply section. We welcome the dialogue and learning of others’ perspectives.

3 Responses to Keep Oakland Beautiful Point of Interest: Asian Resource Center

  1. Ralph Simpson December 20, 2015 at 9:37 am #

    Beautiful building! I was wondering if there was any remaining equipment left over from the Edward Hebern manufacturing days. I am a cipher machine collector and would love to have pictures of any of his old tools or manufacturing line. I already have a picture of this building on my website:
    Thank you,
    Ralph Simpson

    • Eric Saltmarsh December 20, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

      Hi, Ralph. I’m afraid I don’t have much more information about Edward Hebern. Here is a link to some photos of Mr. Hebern’s cipher machines that I pulled off of Google.




      • Ralph Simpson December 20, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

        Hello Eric,
        Thanks for the quick reply!

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