Japanese American Site Named to List of Most Endangered Historic Places

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Historic Wintersburg Mission recognized as official Church 1930 2
The Japanese Presbyterian Mission, established in 1910, was officially recognized as Japanese Presbyterian Church of Wintersburg in 1930.
Yukiko and Charles Furuta Home
Yukiko and Charles Furuta at their bungalow in March 1913 compared to 2007 photograph. (Mario G. Reyes/Rafu Shimpo)

Historic Wintersburg in Huntington Beach, once the center of the Japanese American community in Orange County, has been named to the 2014 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

The announcement was made Thursday at the Huntington Beach City Council chambers.

Wintersburg consists of six vacant buildings – including the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Mission (1910) and the home of goldfish and flower farmers Charles Mitsuji and Yukiko Yajima Furuta (1912).

Christina Morris, director of the Los Angeles Field Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said at the press conference that Historic Wintersburg is one of 11 “important examples of the nation’s architectural, cultural, and natural heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage … threatened by blight, insufficient funds, inappropriate development, or insensitive public policy.”

“Historic Wintersburg is a unique cultural site that tells the important story of early Japanese immigrants as they sought to make a new life and build a community in Southern California. Unlike many prominent Japanese American historic sites, Wintersburg is not just a story of confinement, but instead focuses on the everyday lives of immigrant families, documenting three generations of Japanese American experience from immigration in the late 19th century to the return from incarceration following World War II.”

“The six surviving pioneer structures and open farmland at Wintersburg form an incredibly rare cultural site that encompasses a century of history and tells its stories through the experiences of the Furuta family, the Wintersburg congregation, and the Japanese American community. The site managed to survive despite California’s exclusionary land laws and forced evacuation during World War II, and it now celebrates the often overlooked contributions of Japanese Americans in settling, establishing, and cultivating the western United States.”

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is looking to raise funds for a task force and other preservation efforts related to this site. If you are interested in donating, please send funds to: Historic Wintersburg Preservation Fund, City of Huntington Beach, 2000 Main St., Huntington Beach, CA 92648. For donation information, visit www.huntingtonbeachca.gov/i_want_to/give/donation-wintersburg.cfm.

For information on the site, visit http://historicwintersburg.blogspot.com/. For information on the 11 endangered sites, visit www.preservationnation.org/.
Read More: Wintersburg Site Named To List Of Endangered Historic Places

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