Monday, July 9, 2012

The future of Historic Wintersburg

The Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Mission and manse, circa 1910, at the southeast corner of present-day Warner Avenue and Nichols Lane in Huntington Beach, California.  Considered the most significant extant Japanese American site in Orange County.  (Photo, courtesy of Wintersburg Presbyterian Church)

   We temporarily set aside our stories about the history of Historic Wintersburg, in order to share information about its future.   

   The City of Huntington Beach city council will discuss the potential for preservation of Historic Wintersburg buildings in one week at their 6 p.m., Monday, July 16, 2012 meeting (2000 Main Street, Huntington Beach, California city hall), with the agenda to be posted at  The buildings include the Furuta family home (1912) and barn (likely predates 1912 home), and the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Mission (1910), manse (1910-1911) and Church (1934).

Proposed for demolition
   These historic buildings are being proposed for demolition by the current property owner, who wishes to rezone the property to commercial and industrial uses.    The project proposes demolition with no current plans for development.

   Per the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), a draft Focused Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) is being prepared by the City of Huntington Beach, to analyze the cultural resources of the property.   It was learned the draft FEIR does not include preservation as a mitigation measure.  

   CEQA requires state and local public agencies identify the environmental impacts of proposed discretionary projects, determine if the impacts will be significant, and identify alternatives and mitigation measures that will substantially reduce or eliminate significant impacts to the environment.  Historical resources are considered part of the environment.

   The City Council will discuss the scope of the FEIR at the July 16 City Council meeting.  Public comments to the City Council are needed.

Call to action
    Those who wish to preserve this important part of American history are asked to send an email asking the city council to:
  • Direct a complete CEQA analysis of historic preservation alternatives, including both preservation in situ (onsite) and relocation for preservation
  • Make the historic preservation of the century-old "Warner-Nichols" Wintersburg property a priority
  • Deny demolition of historically significant buildings  located on the Warner-Nichols property, including the Furuta family home and barn, and the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Mission, manse and Church

Emails should be sent by Saturday, July 14, to:

City of Huntington Beach City Council 
Public Communications  for July 16, 2012 city council meeting
Reference: Warner-Nichols (Wintersburg)

  •  Go to
  • Click on "Make a service request - Agenda & Public Hearing Comments"
  • Select request:  "Comment" 
  • Select: "City Council - Agenda & Public Hearing Comments" 
  • You may attach a letter/document, or, write your comments in the comment form
  • Your comments are automatically forwarded to all city council members, the city manager's office and the city clerk's office
Historic Significance of Wintersburg
   As regular readers know, Historic Wintersburg was the heart of Orange County's Japanese community beginning in 1900.  The "Warner-Nichols" property contains an extant complex of buildings that tell the story of the Japanese immigrant community, agricultural development, the peatlands' mission movement, and the struggle for American civil liberties.

   Wintersburg represents the handful of properties owned by immigrant Japanese prior to the Alien Land Law of 1913.  The Mission effort itself was a statement regarding the desire to assimilate into American life (see "Why Orange County's Japanese community built a church in Wintersburg",  The fact this property remained standing during and after the World War II internment years is remarkable.

   For most of Huntington Beach's century-old history, the story of its Japanese community was left untold.  We have the opportunity to preserve this history for future generations.

Editor's Note to our readers in other states and around the world:  Historic Wintersburg is grateful for the interest of our national and international readers.  Your emails also can make a significant difference in the historic preservation of Wintersburg---history belongs to all of us.

A friendly thank you to our international readers in: United Kingdom, Russia, Canada, India, Australia, Philippines, Germany, Malaysia, Ukraine, Singapore, South Korea, Burkina Faso, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Japan.  A special hello to our Sister Cities in Anjo, Japan and Waitakere, New Zealand.

Nikkei farmers in the Orange County, California peatlands, circa early 1900s. (Photo courtesy of California State University - Fullerton, Center for Oral and Public History)

1 comment:

  1. I read the article in today's L.A. Times. reminds me of the Japanese farms in and around Montebello before WW11. I was too young to realize that those families had been "relocated" to Manzanar and other camps for the duration of the war. I hope visit Wintersburg before it's too late.


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