Historic Wintersburg was informed on January 26, 2018, that Phoenix, Arizona-based Republic Services, Inc.--the waste management company that owns the Historic Wintersburg property--plans to sell the National Treasure historic property to Glendale, California-based Public Storage for development as self storage.
In 2014, the six structures at Historic Wintersburg received a 3S / 5S1 classification in the City of Huntington Beach historical survey for the General Plan Historic / Cultural Resources Element (2014). Volume 3, Appendix D, pages 162 - 163, Context and Criteria: Religion and Cultural History. This classification means the structures are considered eligible for the California Register of Historical Resources and for the National Register of Historic Places.
This further documents the local historic designations, the first of which was noted 45 years ago in 1973 in the City Open Space / Conservation Report prepared for City of Huntington Beach General Plan, Figure 2-41, “Important Historical – Cultural Landmarks”.
ABOVE: An aerial from 2014, reveals the density and urbanization in the former Wintersburg Village. Three sides of the Furuta farm and Wintersburg Japanese Mission are near residential neighborhoods, a preschool and elementary school to the south, a Church and school to the north, and the waste transfer operations of Republic Services, Inc. to the west. Preservationists believe historic preservation and environmental conservation, and re-greening of the remaining open space as a public historical park, will save significant American history and provide community benefit. (Photo courtesy of Fred Emmert, AirViews.com) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
This was followed in 1983--35 years ago-- with an analysis by Scientific Resource Surveys, Inc. for PRC Toups Corporation while conducting a historic resource survey for Caltrans’ "Warner Avenue widening and reconstruction project".The report determines structures associated with the Furuta farm and Wintersburg Japanese Mission are "potentially eligible for the National Register of Historic Places".
The report noted, "Without question all of these structures need to have their integrity safeguarded. There are very few remaining community structures of comparable importance still standing. Orange County, since 1950, has undergone such a transmogrification as to virtually wipe out all vestiges of what was a vital prewar Japanese community in Wintersburg and elsewhere, throughout the County.”
LEFT: Letter supporting the preservation of Historic Wintersburg from Kanji Sahara, an advisor to the Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force. He also is a member of the board of directors of the Tuna Canyon Coalition, the Japanese American Citizens League and the Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress. © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
LEFT: Letter supporting the preservation of Historic Wintersburg from former California State Assemblyman Warren Furutani, January 30, 2018. © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
The Japanese American Council of Orange County confirmed the significance to Japanese American heritage in 1986, when they published the Historic Building Survey, with the Bowers Museum, which included the Furuta farm and the Wintersburg Japanese Mission. The majority of the structures noted in that County-wide survey are now gone.
In 1996--more than two decades ago--the City of Huntington Beach General Plan listed “Furuta House” and “Japanese Church” as Local Landmarks in Historic Resources Cultural Element.
RIGHT: Letter supporting the preservation of Historic Wintersburg from the Japanese American National Museum, January 30, 2018. © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
By state law, demolition or removal of a designated landmark or known significant cultural resources require the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report, per the California Environmental Quality Act.
In 2009, Galvin Preservation Associates was contracted by City of Huntington Beach to conduct a citywide historical resources survey, with a stated goal to look for properties of historic significance that may meet established criteria for state or national registry. This report was received by the Huntington Beach City Council in 2014, including the documentation that upgraded the classification for the structures at Historic Wintersburg as eligible for the California Register of Historical Resources and for the National Register of Historic Places.
LEFT: Letter supporting the preservation of Historic Wintersburg from the Little Tokyo Historical Society, January 29, 2018. The Little Tokyo Historical Society is one of the earliest and longest supporters of the preservation of Historic Wintersburg, with historical connections between the two communities dating to circa 1900. © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
In 2014, Historic Wintersburg was named one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places and in 2015, it was designated a National Treasure. In 2017, Preserve Orange County named Historic Wintersburg to their "Most Endangered" list.
Historic Wintersburg has been working to purchase the property from Republic Services since they purchased it in October 2014, working with each new general manager of the Huntington Beach office for the past three years. There were assurances in 2016 and 2017 that there would be a cooperative and collaborative effort to achieve this, also reported in local and regional media. We still wish to work with them in a collaborative and positive land purchase to save and preserve Historic Wintersburg.
Recent media reports:
- Owner of Historic Wintersburg Property Planning to Sell (Rafu Shimpo)
- Republic agrees to sell "National Treasure" Historic Wintersburg to self-storage company (Orange County Register)
- Wintersburg advocates say historic Huntington Beach property is for sale and could become a self-storage facility (Los Angeles Times / Daily Pilot)
RIGHT: Letter supporting the preservation of Historic Wintersburg from Huntington Beach resident Toni Shewell, whose family has a long connection with the former Wintersburg Village. © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
On January 26, that Republic Services, Inc.---the waste management company that owns the Historic Wintersburg property---has made a deal to sell the National Treasure Historic Wintersburg property to Public Storage for development as self storage.
The current effort is to bring together all parties to work toward and allow the purchase for historic preservation, rather than self storage. We believe a National Treasure historic property--representing more than a century of Japanese American history and significant American civil liberties history--is worth saving in its entirety.
LEFT: Letter supporting the preservation of Historic Wintersburg from Nancy Kyoko Oda, President, TunaCanyon.org. Historic Wintersburg has a direct connection to the Tuna Canyon Detention Station, where Charles Furuta, Elder Kyutaro Ishii, and others connected to Historic Wintersburg were imprisoned in 1941 and 1942. The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved the Tuna Canyon Detention Station Historic Cultural Monument #1039 in 2013. More recently, a new entity falsely using the Tuna Canyon name has proposed moving the monument from its historic location, to allow Texas-based Snowball West to build a residential development on the land. © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
We are receiving letters, emails, and contact from those supporting the preservation of Historic Wintersburg as a National Treasure historic place, from Huntington Beach, Orange County, California, as well as nationally. We will continue to share their messages. Our deep appreciation to those who are coming forward to be a voice for this chapter of American history, increasingly endangered and erased in California.