Q.S. Wong, Chinese Herb Specialist

West Street Market

Chinese herbalist and chiropractor Q.S. Wong opened his practice at 138 West Street, a building whose construction he likely financed himself, in 1924. A Reno resident since at least 1913, Wong was a well-respected local businessman who occasionally found himself in the crosshairs of a community not entirely free of prejudice toward his ethnicity and traditional approach to medicine. At least twice, charges were levied against him: first in 1917 for cohabitating with a white woman, and again in 1941 for involuntary manslaughter after one of his patients died of epilepsy.

The manslaughter charge came from Myron R. Adams, Washoe County assistant district attorney, who claimed that Wong had been practicing medicine without a license, leading to the death of patient Velma Valentine Webb. A search of Wong’s offices had revealed surgical instruments which Adams claimed Wong was not licensed to use. Just one week later, notices were served to five Chinese herbalists to close their businesses immediately. The herbalists refused, arguing that the abatement notices were illegal and that they were not public nuisances but respectable service providers.

In court, Wong successfully argued that the instruments in his office were gifts and had never been used, and that his treatment of Webb had consisted solely of a standard regimen of Chinese herbs. Charges were dropped, and he went on to practice until just a few weeks before his death in August of 1945.

In addition to his private practice, Wong also served as the longtime Nevada head of the Chinese Nationalist Party, which used his building as their headquarters. The Nationalist Party was connected to the Republican government in China and was its spokesperson in the United States.

In the 1950s, 138 West Street became the home of the Reno Cancer Center, an affiliate of the American Cancer Society which offered medical examinations and information about symptoms and treatment. An insurance company and realtor also occupied offices there through the 1960s and beyond. The property was folded into the new West Street Market in 2008.

Images

Officers visiting the office of Q.S. Wong, 1941

Officers visiting the office of Q.S. Wong, 1941

Reno officers visit the 138 West Street office of herbalist Q.S. Wong, who was charged with involuntary manslaughter in July of 1941. He was later cleared of all charges. The front of the building has been modified considerably in the intervening years. Image courtesy of Nevada State Journal View File Details Page

Q.S. Wong newspaper ad, 1940

Q.S. Wong newspaper ad, 1940

Q.S. Wong opened his office at 138 West Street in 1924 and operated there through the 1940s. Image courtesy of Nevada State Journal View File Details Page

Reno Cancer Center, 1950

Reno Cancer Center, 1950

The Reno Cancer Center opened at 138 West Street in 1950, offering examinations, consultations, and information to the local community. Image courtesy of Reno Evening Gazette View File Details Page

The G Spot

The G Spot

In the early 2000s, 138 West Street was painted gray and housed a playful shop called the G Spot. | Creator: Washoe County Assessor View File Details Page

Painted red

Painted red

Upon its incorporation into West Street Market in 2008, the brick building was painted red and awnings were added to its entrance. | Creator: Washoe County Assessor View File Details Page

West Street Market, 2010

West Street Market, 2010

In creating the West Street Market, the former parking lot between buildings was transformed into a courtyard and the small brick building at its rear became an art gallery. | Creator: Max Chapman View File Details Page

Courtyard view, 2017

Courtyard view, 2017

Viewed from the West Street Market courtyard, 138 West Street contains a number of separate spaces, which have been occupied by a variety of businesses and residents through the years. | Creator: Alicia Barber View File Details Page

West Street Market, 2017

West Street Market, 2017

138 West Street anchors the southern end of the West Street Market complex. | Creator: Alicia Barber View File Details Page

Sabrina's West Street Kitchen, 2017

Sabrina's West Street Kitchen, 2017

Sabrina's West Street Kitchen opened at 138 West Street in spring of 2017. The original window openings, two on each side of the door, can be discerned from the inlaid brick arches still visible above the current windows, beneath the red paint. | Creator: Sabrina's West Street Kitchen View File Details Page

Street Address:

138 West Street, Reno, NV [map]

Cite this Page:

Alicia Barber, “Q.S. Wong, Chinese Herb Specialist,” Reno Historical, accessed August 16, 2017, http://renohistorical.org/items/show/164.

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