In Fall 2021, the Wing Luke Museum acquired the 1937 Eng Family Home in the CID from its original owners. The Homestead, just one block south of the Museum, is one of the last remaining single-family homes in the CID, boldly constructed despite the Chinese Exclusion Act, which disallowed citizenship and therefore property ownership for Chinese immigrants. Housing discrimination in Seattle also restricted residence for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPIs) in many neighborhoods and disallowed single-family homes in the commercially zoned Chinatown. To comply, the family built the house out of concrete block to fit in with its industrial surroundings and deeded it to their 8-year-old American-born son. Second-generation siblings, now in their 80s and 90s, entrusted it to the Museum to preserve its legacy, a pioneering Chinese American family’s modest house with a basement bean sprout business. The home’s interior remains largely intact; it also includes a garden with original fishpond and loquat trees.
An intimate story of struggle and joy in segregated America requires careful guidance. A twenty member community advisory committee, which includes three generations of the Eng family, museum workers and educators, oversaw the design. The period home will be restored, with electrical and security upgraded for audiovisual capacity. The immersion setting, like those already in operation at the Museum’s East Kong Yick Building, is intended to be as close to the “look and feel” of the original place, while at the same time making reasonable accommodations for modern safety and ADA access logistics. A 160 square foot second story addition is proposed at the house’s existing garage to provide space for a lift/stair as an accessible route up to the main level of the house and down to the basement. The project will also restore the exterior rockery, fence, and plantings at the front on 8th Ave S and introduce new garden landscaping at the back of the house. The existing loquat (Chinese fruit) trees will be saved. The homestead will extend the Wing Luke Museum campus into an exciting future on 8th Avenue, where a new food bank, a returning beloved karaoke bar, and new restaurant from an esteemed local chef will call home.