Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Book discussion: The history behind the fence

The 1912 bungalow of Charles and Yukiko Furuta, behind the green fence at Historic Wintersburg, a rare pre-California Alien Land Law of 1913 property.  There are six historical structures on the property, spanning the founding of the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Mission in 1904 to the post-World War II return of Japanese Americans to Huntington Beach.

   Join author Mary Adams Urashima at the Huntington Beach Central Library, 2 p.m., Saturday, April 19, Rooms C & D, for a visual presentation and discussion of the pioneer history detailed in Historic Wintersburg in Huntington Beach.

   The book discussion will include seldom seen photographs of California's Japanese pioneers and trace the history that helped shape Huntington Beach and Orange County.

Left: The Furuta bungalow in 2011, still stands at Historic Wintersburg, home to the Furuta Gold Fish Farm and the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Mission. © All rights reserved.

   Copies of the book will be available for sale after the discussion, which will include time for audience questions.  Books also are available at the Huntington Beach Barnes & Noble and online through the publisher, History Press, at

   Find out why Historic Wintersburg is nominated for America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places and why the effort to save it has been chronicled in PreservationNation, Huffington Post, Rafu Shimpo, KCET public television's LA Letters, Orange County Register and Los Angeles Times (recent media coverage at

A gathering on the steps of the Huntington Inn, circa 1912, believed to be about fundraising to rebuild the pier.  Charles Mitsuji Furuta is in front row, second from left. Huntington Beach's first mayor, Ed Manning, is second row, far right in light-color suit.  Another Huntington Beach mayor, Orange County supervisor, and pioneer realtor, Thomas Talbert, is in the second row (on step), fourth from left with hat in hand.  (Photo: Courtesy of Wintersburg Presbyterian Church.) © All rights reserved.

   From the first July 4th celebrations in Huntington Beach, the Japanese community's presence was evident.  The "Japanese Association of Wintersburg" donated and presented the fireworks show in 1905 at a "baseball field" (likely Triangle Park off Main Street).  

   By 1907, the Talbert-Leatherman building became Huntington Beach's first Japanese market, the "Rock Bottom" market, run by Yasumatsu Miyawaki (today, this building is the Longboard Restaurant and Pub at 217 Main Street).  Miyawaki was a signator on the founding document for the Wintersburg Japanese Mission in 1904.

The Aoki kendo and judo hall at the Masami Sasaki chili pepper warehouses on Beach Boulevard in Huntington Beach, circa 1930, where today's Newland Center is located.  The award winning judo teams from Huntington Beach were part of a judo demonstration at the Xth Olympiad in Los Angeles in 1932. (Photo snip, courtesy of California State University Fullerton Center for Oral and Public History, PJA 260) © All rights reserved.

   The Huntington Beach pier celebration in 1914 included the Japanese community of Wintersburg Village and the surrounding area.  Special events of the day on June 20, 1914, included Japanese fencing and sword dancing, following the surfing demonstration by George FreethThis year marks the 100-year anniversary of the re-dedication of the pier and the 110th-year anniversary of the founding of the Wintersburg Japanese Mission.  

Koha Takeishi in flight over Wintersburg Village farmland in 1913, in the plane bought for him by local farmers.  A graduate of the Curtiss Flying School, the university student worked the celery fields in Wintersburg during summer breaks.  His story is detailed in the book, Historic Wintersburg in Huntington Beach. (Photo courtesy of the Furuta family) © All rights reserved.

   The early 1900s included pioneer aviation feats, agricultural innovations, archaeological finds in the peatlands, the growth of the Wintersburg Japanese Mission, and the development of Wintersburg Village's three goldfish farms, a unique enterprise in Orange County.  

   Local families considered part of Huntington Beach history---such as the Gothards, Nichols, Winters, Coles, Moores--lived in Wintersburg Village.  The Newland family (of the Newland House Museum at Adams Avenue and Beach Boulevard) contributed to the development of the 1906 Wintersburg M.E. Church, today known as the Warner Avenue Baptist Church, and were part of a church organization that donated to the Wintersburg Japanese Mission.  

   Early Huntington Beach businesses, such as the Savings Bank of Huntington Beach at Main Street and Walnut Avenue, and the Halsell Drug Company, (Eddie Darling's pharmacy) on Main Street, donated to the building fund for the Wintersburg Japanese Mission.

Left: A 1911 letter to Reverend Joseph K. Inazawa with a five-dollar donation from Huntington Beach pharmacist Eddie "E.H." Darling to help retire the construction debt for the 1910 Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Mission.  (Photo: Courtesy of Wintersburg Presbyterian Church.) © All rights reserved.

   Almost sixty years ago in 1957, Wintersburg Village was annexed into Huntington Beach, solidifying the community relationship that began in the late 1800s.

   Lost from local city records in the years since World War II, the history of Japanese Americans in Huntington Beach and Orange County is a lesson in the pioneer spirit and perseverance necessary for the settlement of America.  Learn more about Historic Wintersburg by joining the discussion at the Library!

BOOK SIGNING: 2 P.M., SATURDAY, APRIL 19, HUNTINGTON BEACH CENTRAL LIBRARY, located at 7111 Talbert Avenue at Huntington Beach Central Park.  There is ample free public parking.


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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.