The permanent exhibit is housed in the
Photos and historical documents like immigration records tell the story of the Chinn family, which owned the Mai Wah Noodle Parlor, Wah Chong Tai Mercantile and a laundry in
"It's an immigrant story," said
It's also a story that brought the far-flung family back together for a reunion during the Butte Chinese Heritage Week.
"We thought it was time we tell each other the story of our parents," Oliger said. "The neatest thing about this reunion is a chance to reconnect."
Oliger, who lives in
Standing in the place where she lived until she was 8 years old, Yvonne recalled memories she has of the building. The family lived in what is now the gallery space on the first floor.
"I remember watching from the window downstairs as my dad was going away to the Korean War," she said.
"I think Yvonne and I have incredibly deep roots in Butte Chinese-wise," Joyce said. "Every time I talk about my family, people say, 'You should write a book.' This is my book, this place, this house. I'm really happy the family is anchored in this building. They have a touchstone to their history here."
Joyce, who lives in
"I want people to understand that the Chinese in America are more than chop suey and egg foo young," she said. "We were a community here. People got married and had babies. We're not frozen in time."
She also noted that many people assume the Chinese came to the U.S. only after
"(My family) came in the 1800s," she said. "I have more generations in America than my white husband."
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