Documenting Filipino American Resources in the Chinatown-International District
Deepen understanding of the Filipino American presence in Seattle’s Chinatown-ID through a research report focusing on 5 heritage sites for future preservation activities and tours.
The Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) will deepen understanding of the Filipino American presence in Seattle’s Chinatown-ID by furthering previous survey projects through the creation of an in-depth research report focusing on 5 heritage sites. Findings from this research report will be used to expand and enrich CID neighborhood tours conducted by the Wing Luke Museum; be shared in a public event to raise further awareness of Filipino Americans in the CID; and serve as case study properties for potential future research and preservation activities.
While the history of Filipino Americans in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District (CID) has been shared through oral histories, written stories, and the visual and performing arts, thorough and in-depth documentation of Filipino American cultural resources related to specific places still remains to be done. Previous scholarly efforts by Dr. Fred Cordova, co-founder and archivist for FANHS, resulted in a 2011 initial list of 61 Filipino establishments in the CID, such as the American Hotel and the Bush Hotel, and 6 in nearby Pioneer Square; subsequent research conducted in 2020 by Maria Batayola with Seattle University students identified 31 additional sites. We now have a robust list of 92 establishments in the CID, including their address, establishment name, type, and owner name (where available).
We now propose to deepen our understanding of the Filipino American presence in the CID by creating a research report that focuses on 5 of these sites. We will engage with a preservation consultant to identify the 5 sites from our list of 92, focusing on sites with a balance of tangible and intangible resources, variation in different periods of significance, and diversity in type of establishment. The preservation consultant will then conduct further field study of each of the sites and compile findings in a research report. The report would include preservation recommendations for each of the sites. Findings from this research report will be used to expand and enrich CID neighborhood tours conducted by the Wing Luke Museum; be shared in a public event to raise further awareness of Filipino Americans in the CID; and serve as case study of properties for potential future research and preservation activities. Timing-wise, we plan to engage with the consultant and select the sites in Summer 2022, conduct research in Fall 2022, finalize the report in Winter 2022, and integrate into tours and hold our public event in Spring 2023.
This project follows best practices in preservation by its attentiveness to process, starting with a comprehensive inventory conducted in 2011 and 2020 and building on that work in a phased approach. The project also combines preservation scholarship with community engagement, hiring a professional preservationist and connecting to community values, significance, and priorities through the Filipino American National Historical Society and Wing Luke Museum (also serving as fiscal agent), both deeply embedded in the CID. The project also has potential to show innovation in the field since it encompasses both tangible and intangible resources, situated in an immigrant neighborhood whose buildings have undergone physical alterations over time.
The project is of highest priority since the CID is under massive development pressures and undergoing physical transformation today. The City of Seattle has identified the CID as at extreme risk of displacement. Challenges recovering from the pandemic put the neighborhood, its buildings, and establishments (many of which still remain boarded up after over 2 years) at even further risk. Forthcoming siting of a light rail station with expansion of Sound Transit puts added pressure and calls for deeper understanding of the cultural resources.
Our project especially addresses underrepresented aspects of King County history and engages underrepresented communities and audiences new to historic preservation by focusing on Filipino American resources, working through FANHS which has progressively been deepening its work in historic preservation in the built environment, and sharing findings with audiences rooted in the CID and Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities, as well as the general public, through the Wing Luke Museum.
Overall, the project, led by Project Manager Maria Batayola and Research Advisor Dr. Dorothy Cordova, Executive Director for FANHS, will help to preserve the CID neighborhood’s diverse history. It acknowledges the Filipino contributions towards making the CID the rich, multilayered, culturally authentic place it has been for over 100 years and supports the continued community building, arts and cultural work, and business development and retention, all necessary to sustain and revitalize the CID.
We are especially excited that findings from the report will influence neighborhood tours by the Wing Luke Museum, which serve approximately 9,000 per year (pre-pandemic). We also will plan a public event (whether in-person or live-virtual) illustrating our findings, anticipating an audience of approximately 80.
Relevant Expertise / Experience / Accomplishments
The lead organization for this project is the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS), in partnership with the Wing Luke Museum. Founded in 1982 with national headquarters here in Seattle, FANHS is the leading national organization to document and promote Filipino American history. It was most recently selected to conduct a statewide inventory of Filipino American cultural resources by the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. Our lead team carries on this experience with Project Manager Maria Batayola and Research Advisor Dr. Dorothy Cordova, Executive Director for FANHS.
The Wing Luke Museum will serve as a core project advisor and fiscal agents and help with public engagement with the project findings. The Wing Luke Museum has been rooted in the CID for 55 years, is an Affiliated Area of the National Park Service, served as the Pacific Northwest launch site for the NPS Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Theme Study, and convenes the AAPI Heritage in the PNW Task Force. Our lead project advisor is Cassie Chinn, Deputy Executive Director, who has approximately 30 years of experience working in the CID.
Selection of the preservation consultant will be based on expertise and experience, especially when it comes to an intersectional approach to preservation. Familiarity with the CID is preferred. After issuing a request for qualifications, selection will be made by our lead team in consultation with our lead project advisor.
We are requesting $10,000 to support this project. 4Culture support will go to hiring the preservation consultant, producing and distributing the research report, and hosting the public event. We are confident of our timeline schedule. The Wing Luke Museum will be serving as our fiscal sponsor and has a strong track record of completing projects on time and within budget. If we do not receive the full amount requested, we plan to adjust the number of sites for research and can scale our public event as well.
With so much development happening today in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District and anticipation that it will only increase in the future, it is imperative that we deepen our understanding of the built environment in the CID which includes Filipino history, acknowledging that we can’t preserve what we don’t know.
Our 2020 inventory approached the CID as a historical district with the following boundaries: Yesler Street to the north, 4th Avenue South to the west, Rainier Avenue to the east, and Dearborn/ Charles Street to the south. A preliminary scan of the online map that shows active construction and land use permits in the City of Seattle (“Shaping Seattle: Property & Building Permits” https://web8.seattle.gov/sdci/shapingseattle/buildings) reveals 26 active permits in this area today, making historical preservation efforts more timely and important right now before the historic sites are lost to development.
While the 1986 National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form is a valuable resource and tool for preservation activities, it was created at a time in preservation practices where focus honed-in on single ethnic groups (in this case predominantly Chinese American presence). There is still so much to know about the built environment in the CID, one of Seattle’s oldest historic neighborhoods and one that is unique in the county, state, and nation because of its many rich layers, serving as the place (both past and present) of arrival and belonging for immigrants, refugees and migrants, whether Chinese, Japanese and Filipino American immigrants and nationals, Vietnamese American refugees, or African Americans coming as part of the Great Migration north.
With FANHS leading this project (with Project Manager Maria Batayola and Research Advisor Dr. Dorothy Cordova, Executive Director for FANHS) along with a preservation consultant, and the Wing Luke Museum, we assure robust participation from local Filipino American community resources (see further details below).
- People – $8,100
- Supplies – $400
- In Kind Expenses – $14,500
- Other Expenses – $1,500
- TOTAL – $24,500
- In Kind Expenses – $14,500
- 4Culture Request – $10,000
- TOTAL – $24,500
Project Budget Notes
Expenses: Total project budget of $24,500.
People/Staffing, total $8,100, requested from 4Culture for:
• Preservation consultant = $6,600 (roughly 200 hours x $33/hour; 5 sites x 40 hours per site)
• Graphic design for report = $750
• Public event presenter honorarium = $750
Public Event Supplies: (80 x $5 ea) =$400
Other: Space Use = $1,500
In-kind contribution includes, total $14,500
• FANHS project manager (in-kind) = $5,200
• FANSH research advisor (in-kind) = $5,200
• Wing Luke Museum project advisor (in-kind) = $2,600
• Wing Luke Museum calendar/promotion (in-kind) = $1,500
Revenue: Total Revenue of $10,000
4Culture grant of $10,000, requested
In-kind contributions of $14,500 (see detail above, under expenses)