Wednesday, February 8, 2012

About Wintersburg

   Wintersburg was once the "celery capitol" of America, instrumental in the agricultural wealth that fueled Orange County's development.  Supported by Japanese immigrant agricultural workers, Wintersburg Village and the Wintersburg Mission also became a social touchstone for those becoming Americans, for those who wished to worship in freedom, and for those who sought the American dream.  

   The dream was interrupted by World War II, when Japanese Americans on the west coast were evacuated and confined in internment camps.  Remarkably--while many Japanese Nihonmachis, or "Japantowns" were lost to history--precious elements of Wintersburg survived.  The people of Wintersburg returned home to rebuild their lives.

The Wintersburg Mission and manse, May 1910.  (Photograph courtesy of Wintersburg Presbyterian Church)

   Begun in 1904, the Wintersburg Mission building and a small minister's home were dedicated in 1910 through funds and labor provided by local Japanese immigrants and "some good American friends." In 1930, the Mission became the Wintersburg Presbyterian Church and plans were formed to build a new church building.  The Japanese community managed to raise funds and build during the Great Depression, using this building until 1966

A postcard of the 1934 Church building, noting the founding of the mission effort in the peatlands of Wintersburg in 1904.  (Photograph courtesy of Wintersburg Presbyterian Church)

   Among the rare Nikkei resources left in all of Orange County, the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Church complex is unusual for its range of structures demonstrating the growth of a Japanese Christian church. The complex retains the original 1909-1910 Mission building, the manse dating to 1910, the larger 1934 church built, and the home and heritage barn of church benefactor, Charles Mitsuji Furuta.   (Source: Preserving California's Japantowns,

   Now part of the City of Huntington Beach, Wintersburg faces potential demolition by its new property owner.  This blog will attempt to share the story of Wintersburg and its people.   

Yukiko and Charles Mitsuji Furuta in front of their newly constructed home in 1912.  The home--once surrounded by goldfish ponds and flowers--still stands today, next to the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Mission complex in Huntington Beach.  (Photograph courtesy of Wintersburg Presbyterian Church)

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The Historic Wintersburg blog focuses on an overlooked history in Huntington Beach, Orange County, California, in the interest of saving a historic property from demolition. The author and publisher reserves the right not to publish comments. Please no promotional or political commentary. Zero tolerance for hate rhetoric. Comments with embedded commercial / advertising links or promoting other projects, books, or publications may not be published. If you have an interesting anecdote, question or comment about one of our features, it will be published.