George Stephens bought the lot and built the American Hotel in 1856.
The Placer Herald described it as a “three story fire proof brick, the balance are built of wood, but commodious and comfortable.”
The first floor of the hotel contained the bar and dining rooms, the second floor had two parlors and sixteen rooms, and the third floor had only hotel rooms. The hotel was also the stage office for the California Stage Company.
In 1919 Joe and Charlie Yue opened a new billiard hall and tobacco stand in half of the American Block building, and moved their Shanghai Restaurant from next door into the other half. The Yue family had settled in California in the 1870s, and in addition to being a partner in the Shanghai Restaurant, Charlie Yue worked as a licensed gold buyer in Auburn.
The Shanghai Restaurant remained in the building and was operated by the Yue family until 2005.