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.
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, http://www.californiajapantowns.org/orange.html).
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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