Thursday, July 23, 2015

Years in the making: A chance for preservation

ABOVE: Blue sky through the Furuta barn at Historic Wintersburg. This barn is the last pioneer heritage barn left in Huntington Beach, most likely constructed between 1908 and 1912. (Photo, M. Urashima, 2013) © All rights reserved.

   This week, the Huntington Beach City Council took action to comply with the Orange County Superior Court order to reverse the zoning action taken in November 2013.  This returns the zoning from industrial / commercial to its prior zoning of residential.

   "Following a court order issued in June, the Huntington Beach City Council voted Monday night to rezone the Historic Wintersburg site to its original designation," reports the Huntington Beach Independent. "Republic Services, which bought Rainbow in October, said it had no plans to demolish the site and would allow preservationists to continue studying ways of preserving the structures." 

   Read the full article from the Huntington Beach Independent at,0,805940.story  
    The Orange County Register also covered this development at

   We have clarifications for the Orange County Register online article: The Wintersburg Mission was founded in 1904 and the Historic Wintersburg property was purchased in 1908 (the Mission congregants met in a Wintersburg barn until they had a building). There are six structures: 1910 Mission, 1910 manse (parsonage), 1934 Church, 1912 Furuta bungalow, 1947 Furuta post-WWII ranch house, and the last pioneer barn in Huntington Beach, probably constructed between 1908 and 1912.

RIGHT: Historic Wintersburg contains thousands of stories, some known, some yet to be uncovered. Along with preservation, we continue to research and write about Orange County's pioneer Japanese American community. A second book is in the future! (Image: A collage of historical photographs representing the history of the Furuta family, Wintersburg Mission and Wintersburg Village. Sources include the Furuta family and Wintersburg Church.) © All rights reserved.

   Also, we have a clarification to this statement in the Orange County Register online article: "The panel is considering several options for the site, including moving the buildings to another location, opening a restaurant or retail center that preserves the history of the site (like The Packing House, a food mall made inside a former fruit-packing plant in Anaheim) or building an educational center."  

   Our clarification: The preservation options are on the property (not moving buildings off site), we are not considering a retail center or restaurants (the Packing District are good examples of adaptive reuse, but not what is being proposed).  While the property reverts to the residential zoning which occurred after the City of Huntington Beach annexed Wintersburg Village in 1957, no residential housing is planned for the property per the property owner.

ABOVE: California Preservation Foundation members contemplate the significant history represented by Historic Wintersburg, during their tour in May 2013.  The property has been inspected by other interested organizations and officials, including the National Park Service, National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles.  An upcoming tour will be provided to a delegation from Huntington Beach's Sister City of Anjo, Japan. (Photo courtesy of Chris Jepsen) © All rights reserved.

   The proposals for preservation and adaptive reuse included in the final report from the Urban Land Institute have not yet been released (expected in September / October 2015).  This report (see our June 10, 2015, post on this blog) will provide details on the options that can work for the property owner, preservation effort and community stakeholders, and provides the vision for a collaborative path forward.   The official publication of the Urban Land Institute report will be announced here, along with our partners at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  

   With the release of the report, there will be a call to action, to support the next phase of our effort to preserve Historic Wintersburg for future generations.  Help our preservation effort and one day, walk the land that tells the story of Japanese American pioneer settlement of the American West.


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DONATE: Information on our City of Huntington Beach web page (*We will be transitioning into a California non profit, but also continue as a City task force at this time).

All rights reserved.  No part of the Historic Wintersburg blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima.