Thursday, October 22, 2015


ABOVE: The Wintersburg Mission, May 1910. Charles Furuta is identified near the manse (parsonage) at left. Reverend Barnabas Hisayoshi (Hisakichi) Terasawa and Reverend Junzo Nakamura are standing on the first step from the ground leading to the mission. Dr. Ernest Adolphus Sturge is standing on the third step and Rev. Joseph K. Inazawa (first pastor of the Mission) is standing on the fourth step. The Mission is at the northwest portion of the Furuta farm, a few steps from the Furuta bungalow. These structures are among the six that remain at Historic Wintersburg. (Photograph courtesy of the Furuta family) © All rights reserved.

   Today, Historic Wintersburg was named a National Treasure by the Washington D.C.-based National Trust for Historic Preservation (Trust), the nation’s leading historic preservation organization.  This is the first historic place in Orange County to receive this designation and one of a handful across the country.

   The National Trust describes National Treasures as "beloved places range from one-room schoolhouses to inspiring monuments, from ancient sites to modern masterpieces—National Treasures that reflect our past while enriching our future. Today, thousands of these irreplaceable buildings, landscapes, and communities are endangered as never before."  

   National Treasures include Theodore Roosevelt's Elkhorn Ranch in North Dakota, the Astrodome in Houston, Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, the Great Bend of the Gila in Arizona, the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles, the Panama Hotel in Seattle, and the Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C.  View the list of National Treasures at

   The Trust states the designation of Historic Wintersburg as a National Treasure  is "due to its significance as one of the last remaining Japanese-owned properties purchased before California’s anti-immigrant laws barred Japanese from land ownership in the early 20th century and for its connections to the region’s early agricultural history. The site also represents the injustice that thousands of Japanese American families faced, as the Furuta family and entire Wintersburg Church congregation—the majority American citizens—were forcibly removed and incarcerated during World War II."
   The designation as National Treasure is concurrent with the release of an Urban Land Institute (ULI) technical assistance report that presents reuse concepts for the Historic Wintersburg property, as part of the preservation approach. The Historic Wintersburg property is owned by a third party and an objective, collaborative approach is considered essential to bringing together the varied perspective on what can be achieved.

RIGHT: Preservationists gather to consider the significance of the history represented by the Furuta bungalow at Historic Wintersburg. (Image derived from photo courtesy of Chris Jepsen, May 2013) © All rights reserved.

   Funded with community donations raised by the Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force and coordinated by the National Trust, the report follows two intensive days of analysis and stakeholder interviews, which was preceded by a comprehensive review of the property-area demographics, economics, assets and challenges. Subsequent to the June stakeholder interviews, the ULI team has worked to prepare the final report.

  The ULI report is a neutral, expert analysis that presents a range of possible alternatives for the Historic Wintersburg property.  The report also recommends that members of the community be engaged in the development process at every possible step, to work with the property owner toward a solution that is economically feasible and preserves the significant history represented by Historic Wintersburg.

  The National Trust announcement and ULI report can be viewed at

  Historic Wintersburg extends its thanks and gratitude to the National Trust for recognizing the importance of the history represented by the Furuta farm and Wintersburg Japanese Mission complex.  

   We thank our supporters in Huntington Beach, from around the country and from around the world.  Historic Wintersburg is a National Treasure, with links to world events, and thousands of stories yet to be told.


Preservation efforts need funding.  Historic Wintersburg is now a California non profit and is transitioning to a stand-alone non profit.  At this time, DONATIONS to the dedicated preservation fund for Historic Wintersburg can still be made via Paypal through our City of Huntington Beach web page at  Information regarding how to send in donations via U.S. Mail also can be found on this page.  If you have an in-kind donation in mind, please contact us through the email address at the bottom right of this blog.

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.