Friday, November 2, 2018

California Preservation Foundation: President's Award 2018 presented to Historic Wintersburg

ABOVE: A page from the program for the California Preservation Awards, held at the historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles on October 19. One of the three President's Awards was presented to Historic Wintersburg author and preservation chair, Mary Adams Urashima. (October 19, 2018) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

   The California Preservation Awards are a statewide hallmark, showcasing the best in historic preservation. The awards ceremony includes the presentation of the Preservation Design Awards and the President’s Awards, bringing together hundreds of people each year to share and celebrate excellence in preservation.

RIGHT: An historical overview on the century of Japanese American history and the present-day community effort to save and preserve National Treasure Historic Wintersburg was presented at the annual California Preservation Awards 2018. (Photo, Barbara Haynes, October 19, 2018) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

   The The California Preservation Foundation’s mandate not only focuses on educating and advocating for the protection of California's architectural icons and transcendental cultural landscapes, the Foundation honors and celebrates "the places that matter most to Californians".

   For over four decades, the California Preservation Foundation has advocated for California's unique heritage sites and assisted community preservation efforts.  The Foundation now represents a network of over 15,000 preservation professionals, advocates, and supporters of heritage preservation.  The Foundation's annual conference is annual conference is the West Coast’s largest and most respected, drawing upwards of 500 attendees collaborating on innovative preservation programs and projects.

   The fulled printed magazine for the California Preservation Awards highlights the 2018 award winners for the President's Award and the Preservation Design Award Winners.

LEFT: Author, historian, and preservationist, Mary Adams Urashima receives the California Preservation Foundation President's Award for the multi-year advocacy for preservation of National Treasure Historic Wintersburg as a permanent heritage site. Watch a short video of Mary's remarks on the Historic Wintersburg Facebook page (courtesy of Nancy Oda).  Historic Wintersburg in Huntington Beach, California, is one of the last remaining Japanese-owned properties from early 20th Century pioneer era and remains an endangered California heritage site threatened with demolition and development.  (Photo, Barbara Haynes, October 19, 2018) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

   Our thanks to the California Preservation Foundation for their recognition of the historic significance and community-based effort to save the unique and inspiring history embodied by the Furuta Gold Fish Farm and Wintersburg Japanese Mission at Historic Wintersburg.

   Learn more about Historic Wintersburg on our National Treasure web page with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  Named one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2014 by the National Trust, Historic Wintersburg also was named one of Orange County's Most Endangered by Preserve Orange County in 2017.

© All rights reserved.  No part of the Historic Wintersburg blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Historic Wintersburg historian and chair Mary Urashima to receive President's Award

ABOVE: Photographs taken a century apart, with a group from the California Preservation Foundation in 2013 contemplating the monumental history at Historic Wintersburg as Yukiko Yajima Furuta and Charles Mitsuji Furuta look back at them from 1913. (Historical photograph courtesy of the Furuta family. Present-day photograph courtesy of Chris Jepsen. Technical mash up courtesy of Ken Hayashida.) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

   The California Preservation Awards are a statewide hallmark, showcasing the best in historic preservation. The awards ceremony includes the presentation of the Preservation Design Awards and the President’s Awards, bringing together more than 300 people each year to share and celebrate excellence in preservation.

   This October, Historic Wintersburg historian and preservation task force chair Mary Urashima will receive the President's Award.

   "Mary Urashima is a tireless – and effective – advocate for the preservation of the historic Wintersburg and the historic Furuta Farm and Wintersburg Presbyterian Mission Complex. This site was listed on the National Trusts “11 Most Endangered Places” and was designated a “National Treasure” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation." Read more at Mary Adams Urashima on the California Preservation Foundation website.

RIGHT: Historian and chair of the Historic Wintersburg preservation task force, Mary Adams Urashima. Her book, Historic Wintersburg in Huntington Beach, was published in 2014 (History Press) and she is researching for a second book relating to Historic Wintersburg. © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

   Since 1983, over 500 projects have been recognized with a Preservation Design Award. Winning projects are selected by a jury of top professionals in the fields of architecture, engineering, planning, and history, as well as renowned architecture critics and journalists. The jury selects projects that have furthered, to a notable degree, the purposes of the profession, consistent with the California Preservation Foundation’s mission.

   The President’s Awards honor people deserving of special recognition for their outstanding preservation efforts. Since its inception in 1991, this program has recognized individuals and organizations whose work allows others to gain a deeper appreciation of historic resources and their value to California’s economy, environment and quality of life. All proceeds from this event support the California Preservation Foundation’s statewide education and advocacy programs.

   Also receiving a President's Award this year are Milford Wayne Donaldson, Janet Hansen and KFA Santa Monica.

   Milford Wayne Donaldson is a former President of the California Preservation Foundation, Chair of the State Historical Building Safety Board, State Historic Preservation Officer and appointed by President Obama to serve as the Chair of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

   Janet Hansen’s career has been devoted to expanding understanding of the built environment, most notably as the coordinator of the groundbreaking SurveyLALos Angeles’ first-ever comprehensive program to identify significant historic resources throughout the city.

   In the late 1990’s, KFA helped to spark the resurgence of the historic core in downtown Los Angeles under the City's Adaptive Reuse Ordinance. The firm designed the first three buildings under this landmark ordinance in the Old Bank District, and have since rehabilitated over 40 historic buildings throughout the City. This award recognizes KFA’s critical role in the renaissance of downtown Los Angeles

LEFT: The lobby of the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, an early home to the Oscars. (Courtesy of Millennium Biltmore,

   The California Preservation Awards will be held Friday, October 19, at the historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel, built in 1923 and designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1969. The Millennium Biltmore was an early home to the Academy Awards Ceremony.  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was founded in the Crystal Ballroom in May 1927, with a legend that the design for the Oscar was sketched on a Biltmore linen napkin.

   Support the preservation of California's unique history in an award-winning historic setting.  More about the California Preservation Awards and ticket information at California Preservation Foundation  Proceeds support the statewide education and advocacy programs of the California Preservation Foundation.

© All rights reserved.  No part of the Historic Wintersburg blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima.

Monday, July 2, 2018

The Wintersburg Village Japanese Association and fireworks in the Huntington Beach Township

  The first fireworks in Huntington Beach were brought by the Smeltzer Japanese Association in 1905*, as their contribution to the patriotic celebration. By 1910, the daylight and evening fireworks were an advertised highlight of the Huntington Beach July 4th events, beginning in the morning and continuing through nightfall.

LEFT: An advertisement announces the July 4th events at Huntington Beach would include Japanese wrestling, and "magnificent daylight fireworks and beautiful night fireworks by the Japanese Society of Smeltzer". The Smeltzer Japanese Association took its name from the unincorporated settlement, Smeltzer, near Beach Boulevard and Edinger Avenue in what is now north Huntington Beach. The Association met in Wintersburg Village on the second floor of the Tashima market on Wintersburg Road. (Santa Ana Register, July 2, 1910)

   In 1910, the saltwater plunge near the Huntington Beach pier was open and the Pacific Electric Railway line along the beach dropped visitors off next to the pier by the hundreds. 

   Thousands were making their way to Southern California beaches for the holiday. The Los Angeles Herald reported on July 4, 1910, that the Pacific Electric Railway had the biggest day its company had known, with a reported 30,000 heading to Long Beach and thousands more to Newport Beach, Balboa Beach and Huntington Beach.  

   Ten days after the Independence Day holiday in 1910, hundreds more would arrive for the Methodist "tent city" at Huntington Beach with a reported 300 canvas tents going up near 11th Street for a July 14 opening. Six years after Henry Huntington brought the Pacific Electric Railway to town in 1904, the township and nearby Wintersburg Village were bustling.

ABOVE: Horse racing on an unpaved Ocean Avenue (Pacific Coast Highway) at Huntington Beach was part of the day's events on the morning of July 4, 1910. The race ended at Main Street, with the winner chosen from the two best heats out of three. (City of Huntington Beach archives)

   A "committee of enterprising citizens" organized the 1910 July 4 holiday and received an offer by the Wintersburg Japanese Association (Smeltzer) to again provide the fireworks for Independence Day at no cost to the community and at an estimated value of $200, an equivalent of over $5,000 in 2018.

RIGHT: The Huntington Beach Township reported the offer by the Wintersburg Japanese Association to provide fireworks again for Independence Day and directed an expression of thanks be sent. ("Celebration is planned", Santa Ana Register, June 17, 1910)

    The committee proudly reported "the Fourth of July will be celebrated in Huntington Beach this year in a 'safe and sane' way, yet in a manner that will afford amusement and entertainment to a large number of visitors who annually seek here the delightfully cool climate and refreshing ocean breezes which make this city so desirable as a summer resort". The committee planned automobile and motorcycle races, fireworks provided by the Japanese Association, "and the usual smaller attractions". They secured special railroad car service to Huntington Beach from the Pacific Electric Railway, anticipating a large crowd.

LEFT:  The fireworks provided by the Japanese association were a marvel that Orange Countians looked forward to at special events. The Santa Ana Register provided a description of the novelty, noting "the prettiest of all was a long string of the flags of all nations that presented a beautiful sight as they fluttered down to earth". (Santa Ana Register, October 7, 1910)

  The day's events would start with the "customary Independence Day oration" by Los Angeles attorney W. H. Anderson. The Santa Ana Register advised his speech "will occupy only about 20 minutes" before the livelier activities began and encouraged everyone to arrive on time.

   Crowds gathered for horse races along the beach from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm, foot race competitions at the baseball grounds for girls and boys, and a "free-for-all dash around the bases at baseball ground" followed by daylight fireworks at 1 pm (which continued through evening). In the middle of the afternoon on July 4, 1910, the City of Orange baseball team took on the home team at the baseball field in the downtown. But, before the baseball game the committee planned a greased pig race for which "an especially swift porker has been secured for the occasion and the supply of grease is large".

   As night fell and fireworks lit up the sky, the Huntington Beach concert band--which had played throughout the day--provided live music for a dance near the beach.  Music  of the day might have included "Let me Call You Sweetheart", "Come Josephine in My Flying Machine", and the still-popular "Chicken Reel". This also was the year that "America the Beautiful"--an 1895 poem originally titled "Pike's Peak" and written by Katharine Lee Bates--was first published with the music by which we know it today.

RIGHT: A front page feature in the Santa Ana Register advised those of a "sportive or recreative nature" to head to either Huntington Beach or Newport Beach to be patriotic, economical and sensible.  The Register also advised there would be no newspaper on Monday, July 4, because "all editors and printers and reporters and bookkeepers and so forth want to celebrate. And other people too--they want to celebrate. But how can they really and truly celebrate if the daily paper 'butts in' on them about 5 o'clock--the best part of the day...So we'll all take a day off". (Santa Ana Register, July 2, 1910)

   The Santa Ana Register reported on July 5, 1910, that "horse racing and day fireworks at Huntington Beach drew a large crowd. Huntington was the most bravely decorated in flags and bunting of any of the beach places, and many jolly picnic parties were in evidence".

ABOVE: A postcard image, circa 1910, of the saltwater plunge near the Huntington Beach pier. Note the Pacific Electric Railway "red car" and station at left. The plunge rented bathing suits, advertised "safe surf bathing" and a bath house with hot saltwater tub baths. There was a slide into the plunge, which was divided into shallow and deep swimming areas. A bleacher area inside the plunge and an open walkway above meant swimmers were part of the tourist attraction in 1910, just as visitors watch surfers from the pier today.

*Hansen, Debra Gold; Ryan, Mary P.; "Public Ceremony in a Private Culture: Orange County Celebrates the Fourth of July", University of California Press, 1991.  

© All rights reserved.  No part of the Historic Wintersburg blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Historic Wintersburg collaborating with Orange Coast Gakuen on "study garden" in heritage park

ABOVE: The Garden Grove Japanese Language School was one of the four Japanese Language Schools supported by the Wintersburg Japanese Mission, founded in 1904. The Garden Grove school was the first of the stand-alone schools, opening in January 1917.  At the time the Garden Grove school was demolished in 1991, it was noted in the archaeological report as the oldest wooden school building in Orange County. The school was located at 10771 Sherman Avenue and was replaced by the present-day Costco, despite opposition by the Orange County Historical Commission and Garden Grove Historical Society, among other county and state historical organizations. (Photo circa 1927, Archaeological Site Record, ORA 1307H, 1991)

   We are pleased to announce our collaboration with Orange Coast Gakuen! Historic Wintersburg will be working with Orange Coast Gakuen to explore the vision of a restored historical site with green open park space and an educational and cultural center. Negotiations to purchase the property continue with Republic Services, supported by our national partners, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Trust for Public Land.

  Orange Coast Gakuen has been providing Japanese language classes and cultural programs---like calligraphy, art, and flower arranging---for 42 years in Huntington Beach, without a permanent home. Their Saturday programs are open to all ages and to anyone who wants to learn. 

   The literal translation of "gakuen" 学園 is "study garden".  A restored and re-greened Historic Wintersburg with open park spaces and educational programming will complement the neighborhood and schools surrounding the property, while offering programming relevant to the history and saving a National Treasure for future generations.

   After its founding in 1904, the Wintersburg Japanese Mission provided language school programs.  The Mission helped open the first Japanese Language Schools in Orange County, opening the first school building in Garden Grove in 1917 (photo below). The Mission supported the four Language Schools in Orange County: Garden Grove, Talbert (Fountain Valley), Costa Mesa and Laguna Beach*. The clergy for the Wintersburg Japanese Mission made a 200-mile circuit by horseback, to visit the Language Schools and the communities they served in Orange County.

LEFT: One of the many school contributions of the Japanese pioneer community was support for the first grammar school in Talbert (Fountain Valley).  Among those listed as presenting a check to the community school are founders, elders and congregants of the Wintersburg Japanese Mission. (Santa Ana Register, December 18, 1927)

   The Language Schools functioned as schools and also as community centers for meetings of groups such as the grange or farmers' groups, civic efforts, weddings, funerals, and Japanese Associations. The Language School buildings also were open to neighbors and community groups who needed a place to meet.

Full circle
   More than a century after the first Language School opened in Orange County, we're happy to come "full circle" and collaborate with Orange Coast Gakuen regarding the future of Historic Wintersburg!

*The only remaining building of the four original Japanese Language Schools in pioneer Orange County is Cottage #34 at Crystal Cove State Park. It is one of the schools supported by the Wintersburg Japanese Mission.

© All rights reserved.  No part of the Historic Wintersburg blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Historic Wintersburg featured on NBC

ABOVE: The Wintersburg Japanese Mission and manse (parsonage), circa 1910. These structures and four other structures, the majority over a century old, remain standing at Historic Wintersburg in Huntington Beach, California. © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Activists seek to preserve historic Japanese-American site involved in possible sale; Wintersburg Village was one of few sites owned by Japanese Americans before the California Alien Land Law of 1913 

by Caitlin Yoshiko Kandil /  / Updated 

Read the feature on NBC News at

© All rights reserved.  No part of the Historic Wintersburg blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Update: Meeting with property owner to discuss future of National Treasure Historic Wintersburg

LISTENING TO VOICES FROM THE PAST: A composite image of two photographs, one hundred years apart. The present-day image is of members of the California Preservation Foundation at Historic Wintersburg during a workshop in 2013. The black and white image was taken 100 years earlier in 1913, as the Furutas moved into their new home in Wintersburg Village.  Shortly after the 1913 photograph was taken, California passed the Alien Land Law of 1913 which specifically prohibited property ownership by Japanese immigrants.  The prohibition was not lifted until the Supreme Court of California ruling in 1952 that the law was a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, Sei Fujii v. California. (Present-day photograph, 2013, Chris Jepsen; 1913 photograph courtesy of the Furuta family; photo composite, Kenneth Hayashida) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

   On Friday, February 23, representatives of the Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force, Ocean View School District and the National Trust for Historic Preservation met with Republic Services to discuss more desirable and appropriate alternatives for the future use of the Historic Wintersburg property.

   READ: The latest update from the National Trust for Historic Preservation,

© All rights reserved.  No part of the Historic Wintersburg blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Support for preservation of Historic Wintersburg from Huntington Beach Historic Resources Board

ABOVE: Toshiko Furuta holds her sister, Grace, with Kazuko and Etsuko Furuta, near the Wintersburg Avenue frontage of the Gold Fish Farm, circa 1928.  The children are east of the barn, behind the Furuta's 1912 bungalow, A glimpse of an automobile just inside the barn.  Yukiko Furuta recalled in her 1982 oral history interview when her husband, Charles Mitsuji Furuta, bought their first automobile, a Chevy, after their second child, Toshiko, was born in 1916.  She shared that she was "scared to ride in it. The street was not well paved, and they could drive only twenty to twenty-five miles an hour." The Furuta barn is the last extant pioneer barn in Huntington Beach. Historic Wintersburg is one of the the last remaining Japanese-owned properties purchased before California's Alien Land Law of 1913.  (Photograph courtesy of the Furuta family) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

   The City of Huntington Beach Historic Resources Board transmitted a letter to the Huntington Beach City Council, following the Board's February 8 special meeting, to convey their support for the preservation of Historic Wintersburg "in the strongest possible terms."  The Board requests the City Council "facilitate discussion between the property owner and those capable of purchasing and protecting Historic Wintersburg."

LEFT: Letter sent from the City of Huntington Beach Historic Resources Board to the City Council after the Board's February 8 special meeting. The Board acts in an advisory capacity, with a mission "to encourage and promote programs and activities that enhance public awareness of historic resources (and) as a liaison to Council for local, state and federal groups and agencies whose interest involves historic issues.

   The Historic Resources Board previously  supported the preservation of Historic Wintersburg, in a 2014 letter to the Orange County Historical Commission, an advisory body to the Orange County Board of Supervisors. The letter noted that then-owner Rainbow Environmental Services stated they would work with the community to preserve the historic goldfish farm and mission property.  The Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force ultimately funded the analysis cited in the letter through community donations.

   The Orange County Historical Commission transmitted a letter to the Huntington Beach Planning Commission in 2013, during public hearings regarding the possible rezoning  to commericial / industrial and proposed demolition of all six historic structures, by the previous owner of the property, Rainbow Environmental Services. This letter was included in the subsequent review by the Huntington Beach City Council.

RIGHT: Letter from  the City of Huntington Beach Historic Resources Board to the Orange County Historical Commission in 2013. Both the City board and the County commission advocated for the preservation of Historic Wintersburg.

   Although the Huntington Beach City Council in a split vote certified the Environmental Impact Report for the rezoning and demolition in November 2013, this action was halted when the Ocean View School District filed two separate lawsuits, against the City and against Rainbow Environmental.  After the School District's settlement with the City and Republic Services in November 2016 (Republic bought Rainbow Environmental Services at the end of 2015), the property reverted to its prior residential zoning. 
ABOVE: Grading in 1908 for the construction of Huntington Beach High School's first permanent buildings, near what is today Main Street and Yorktown Avenue. At the same time in 1908, Charles Furuta and Reverend Terasawa purchased the land that is known today as Historic Wintersburg. (Photograph, City of Huntington Beach archives, 1908)

   As part of the settlement agreement between the School District and Republic Services, the District retained "first right of refusal" should Republic consider selling Historic Wintersburg.  Development of the property for self storage (the current project proposed by Republic Services notice of their plan to sell to Public Storage) would require another environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  

   All six structures on Historic Wintersburg are each classified as individually eligible for the state and national historic registries, with documentation regarding this in the City of Huntington Beach General Plan's Historic and Cultural Element.  The property is considered significant per state guidelines, which state a resource identified as significant in an historical resource survey which meets the requirements of the California Public Resources Code, shall be presumed to be historically or culturally significant unless the preponderance of evidence demonstrates that it is not.  Historic Wintersburg is noted as historically and culturally significant and is one of 100 National Treasure historic places in the United States, the first and only National Treasure in Orange County.

LEFT: A July 2013 letter from the Orange County Historical Commission advocating for the preservation of Historic Wintersburg.  The Commission is a 15-member citizen advisory group appointed from each of the five Supervisory Districts in Orange County. Their public mission is to "promote the preservation and use of buildings, sites, structures, objects, and districts of importance in Orange County, stimulate and encourage financial and partnership support for projects in the public and private sectors."  Among their accomplishments are the "acquisition and planning of Orange County historical parks, including: Heritage Hill, Irvine Ranch Headquarters, Key Ranch, Modjeska House and Gardens, Peralta Adobe, and Yorba Cemetery."

ABOVE: Orange County history from 1863 to 1908.  A glimpse inside the 1891 St. George's Episcopal Mission at Orange County's Heritage Hill Historical Park prior to a 2016 presentation about Historic Wintersburg for the Saddleback Area Historical Society.  Although the St. George's mission has slightly taller ceilings, it is similar in size to the 1909-1910 Wintersburg Japanese Mission. Heritage Hill Historical Park also is similar in size to the Historic Wintersburg property.  The Park's 4.1 acres includes four restored historic buildings that span the early history of the Saddleback Valley and El Toro area from the Mexican Rancho era (Serrano Adobe, circa 1863), to the founding of the town of El Toro (El Toro Grammar School, 1890; St. George's Episcopal Mission, 1891), ending with the citrus farming days of the early twentieth century (Harvey Bennett Ranch House, 1908).  Heritage Hill is open to the public, Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Photo, M. Urashima, January 23, 2016) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

   Purchased for the Furuta goldfish farm and Wintersburg Japanese Mission in 1908, Historic Wintersburg can continue the history of Orange County exactly where Heritage Hill Historical Park leaves off, if preserved as a historical park for future generations.

© All rights reserved.  No part of the Historic Wintersburg blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima.