A2H was hired to assist St. Francis County Historical Society in their efforts to craft a vision for converting the historic Chu Building into the new East Arkansas Delta Multicultural Museum. This visioning effort provided the society with the tools they needed to begin fundraising and telling the story of this project.
Historically a cultural pillar of Forrest City Arkansas, the Chu Building has seen many a variety of tenants
during its lifetime. Two of the most notable being Howe’s Cash Grocery, in which the Howe family lived above the store on a second level, and the Harlem Theatre. The building is a fragment of time that represents the rich heritage of the Arkansas Delta and reflects the relationship between African Americans and Chinese immigrants in the Deep South of post Civil War America.
Recently, the Chu building was gifted to the Saint Francis Historical Society in hopes of turning the historic marker into the new East Arkansas Delta Multicultural Museum. The building has succumbed to age, the elements and is in overall disrepair. Since the closing of the Harlem Theatre in 1966 and Howe’s
Grocery in 1972, the building saw a few short-term tenants over the years, but has remained relatively
empty since the 1980’s.
The project had five key “Big Ideas” driving the design:
- Create a modern, multicultural museum that is active, interactive, adaptable and resilient.
- Focus on cultural, heritage tourism and give life back to the area’s history.
- Catalyst for revitalizing downtown and connecting the composition of Forrest City.
- Link to existing, regional museums, trails, and events centered around the regional identity of the Delta
- Use construction as an engagement opportunity and instructional tool