HomeAsian AmericansA Vietnamese Shopping Center Now A Historic Site for the State

A Vietnamese Shopping Center Now A Historic Site for the State

The Far East Shopping Center in Denver, Colorado is a story of an immigrant family building a new life in a foreign land and eventually calling it home. Now, it is recognized by the State Register of Historic Properties as an important contribution to the story of the state as well.

The Luong Family fled Vietnam in 1975 to arrive in Denver. According to Fox 31, all their possessions and land were stolen by the North Vietnamese, so they came with nothing. After working at King Soopers for a while, the family gathered all their resources to open a Vietnamese grocery store in 1986, eventually purchasing the property and constructing what has become the Far East Center.

Sitting at the heart of Little Saigon, the Far East Center is now home to nineteen retail businesses. Characterized by its Torii-style entry gate, iconic red tile roofs, and a stylized Guardian Lion Statue, it is also a mecca for Asian food and retail. Mimi Luong, the current owner of Truong An Gifts and manager of the Far East Center, was raised here by her parents who founded the shopping center.

“There is a supermarket, so if we are hungry or for snacks or whatever, we will just go there. If there is an office, we do our homework in there. For the restaurants sometimes, we’re just like, ‘We’re hungry, we want egg drop soup,’“ Luong told BNN.

In a press release, History Colorado said this is only the third property on the State Register dedicated to the history of APPI residents in Colorado. The Far East Center’s connection to the settlement of Vietnamese immigrants and refugees in Colorado following the end of the Vietnam war, it’s unique architectural characteristics, and its contribution to boosting the economic growth of the AAPI community in Denver, are all attributes taken into consideration for the historic designation.

“Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, and their contributions to our shared history, are significantly underrepresented on both the State and National Registers,” said Patrick Eidman, chief preservation officer and deputy state historic preservation officer. “The addition of the Far East Center not only helps the State Register tell a more complete history of Colorado, but also preserves the remarkable story of the Luong family coming to the United States, after being displaced and losing their worldly possessions as a result of the Vietnam War and building this remarkable center of culture and commerce.”

This is the 33rd year that the Luong family has celebrated Lunar New Year in the Far East Center, and Luong told Denverite that the honor feels especially fitting for the year of the dragon because it represents strength, protection, and prosperity.

“This is an extra special year and it just feels like our year,” said Luong. “This is a year full of changes, more powerful energy…I’ve always wanted somebody to pick up on the story of my family and how the Far East Center came to be and now we’re here.”

Suggested slug: denver-colorado-far-east-center-immigrant-story-historic-importance

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