Friday, October 25, 2013

Decision: Before the City Council on November 4

The Furuta family on the steps of their 1912 bungalow in Wintersburg Village, circa 1923.  The Furuta farm and Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Mission complex is the sole remaining pre-Alien Land Law, Japanese-owned property in Huntington Beach and much of Orange County.  The Mission is the oldest Japanese church in Orange County, and most of Southern California. (Photo courtesy of the Furuta family) All rights reserved. ©

   The fate of Historic Wintersburg now goes before the Huntington Beach City Council on Monday, November 4 (6 p.m.).  The Council will review and discuss the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the "Warner-Nichols" project, which proposes rezoning the property to commercial / industrial and includes an application for demolition of all six historic structures on the property.

   Individuals and organizations representing thousands of concerned people from Huntington Beach, from throughout California, and from around the country have sent letters supporting the preservation of Historic Wintersburg (see support list at  

   The significance of an extant pre-Alien Land Law of 1913 property---when Japanese immigrants were prohibited from owning property and obtaining citizenship---has prompted expert assessment that the Furuta farm and Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Mission complex are potentially eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.  The 2011 City of Huntington Beach environmental assessment noted all six structures are potentially eligible for the National Register, the same assessment made over thirty years ago during an analysis for Caltrans in 1986.

   The most recent assessment was provided after an inspection by the U.S. National Park Service in May 2013, and again in October 2013 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  Both federal entities raised concerns about the environmental review and that preservation alternatives were not fully analyzed.  The National Historic Trust for Historic Preservation notes the 2013 initiative of the U.S. Department of the Interior and National Park Service to identify and find ways to preserve Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage sites as part of the national preservation goals, and offers assistance to the City.

Letter to Huntington Beach City Council from National Trust for Historic Preservation, recommending application for the National Register of Historic Places and assistance toward finding historic preservation alternatives.

Excerpt from U.S. National Park Service technical memorandum regarding inspection of Historic Wintersburg property.

    In addition to concerns about the historic significance of the property, the Ocean View School District has raised concerns about the Warner-Nichols project proposal to re-zone the majority of the land to industrial use.  The area proposed for industrial zoning is at the south end of the Furuta farm, adjacent to the Oak View Elementary School and the Oak View residential neighborhood.  

   An overview of the Ocean View School District's concerns was reported by the Huntington Beach Independent,,0,6898470.story

The congregation of the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Mission, March 8, 1910.  The manse was built immediately after the Mission was constructed. A glimpse of the Terahata house, which had been moved temporarily to the property, can be seen in the background. Founder Reverend Hisakichi Terasawa and future goldfish farmer Charles Furuta would be in the crowd, along with clergy from Westminster. (Photo courtesy of Wintersburg Presbyterian Church) All rights reserved. ©   

Historic places create connections to our heritage that help us understand our past, appreciate our triumphs, and learn from our mistakes. Historic places help define and distinguish our communities by building a strong sense of identity."
                                                                              National Trust for Historic Preservation

LAST CHANCE: Help save American heritage by being a voice for the preservation of Historic Wintersburg at the Huntington Beach City Council meeting.

Huntington Beach City Council
6 p.m., Monday, November 4*
City of Huntington Beach City Hall - City Council Chambers
2000 Main Street 
(Intersection of Main Street and Yorktown Avenue)

*Please arrive a few minutes early to fill out a speaker card for the "Warner-Nichols" project public hearing.  Provide the card to the city clerk inside the Council chambers.

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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.