Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The chronology of Historic Wintersburg and its historic preservation: pre-history to June 2017

ABOVE: A celery farmer shows off the peat shoes used on farm horses in the Orange County peatlands. Horses were outfitted with these special shoes to avoid sinking into the soft peat soil.  Celery was king in the late 1800s and early 1900s, until the blight hit circa 1908. Other key crops for the Wintersburg Village and Smeltzer farms were sugar beets and chili peppers. (San Francisco Call, June 8, 1902) 

   Before continuing the history of events of 1942, it is time to update the chronology of Historic Wintersburg (and help those who are just now catching up).  The history of Native Californians, the ranchos, pioneer settlement, and modern history of preservation are part of the story of what is left of Wintersburg Village.

   The politics of preservation also are part of the story, and, part of the timeline below.  Included on this chronology are highlights marking points in United States history that are relevant to the significance of the property, the documented historical designations by government agencies affirming the property's national significance, and the harassment of the historic preservation effort.  Opposition to historic preservation does occur, particularly when it relates to history about which many are not familiar. Cyber harassment is a relatively new phenomenon.

   Mike Sonsken--writing for KCET, the nation's largest independent public television station--noted this on a feature about Historic Wintersburg in 2013:

   "Thousands of stories like this occur across America and the world. Some sites are saved, and some are forgotten. There's only a small window of time, and a whole range of factors. The politics of preservation, as Ada Louise Huxtable reminds us, is guided by real estate values. Time will tell what will happen at Wintersburg. I believe the site should be saved as well, but it is easy to see how the odds are stacked against them."  
(Politics of Preservation: Olvera Street to Huntington Beach, KCET, November 22, 2013,

   The Tongva (aka "Gabrieleno"), the first Americans, have a long presence in Orange County, as evidenced by archaeological finds in the immediate area of Historic Wintersburg as well as in the area noted by early census reports and records as the former Wintersburg Village.  

   This includes settlement on the land that is now the Ocean View High School and a multiple burial site 1320 feet northwest of Historic Wintersburg (Shell Midden, Site Number 30000346).  Artifacts found on the present-day high school property include the "universe effigy" and cogged stones now on exhibit in the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana.  A widely reported find of a large burial on the Buck Ranch (noted by archaeologists as being within Wintersburg Village) in December 1930 uncovered artifacts and skeletal remains, some of which also made their way to the Bowers Museum.

LEFT: Frederick Randolph Aldrich in his personal museum at his home in Balboa Island, circa 1940s.  Some of the skulls and other artifacts in the Aldrich collection came from a massive burial site unearthed in Wintersburg Village in December 1930.  Once news about the burial site was published in the Santa Ana Register, hundreds descended on the property for "souvenirs". (Image, Frederick Randolph Aldrich, Shells Magazine)

   It is expected more archaeological finds may be waiting at Historic Wintersburg, which historically had shallow uses.  Read more about some of the archaeological investigations and finds in the former Wintersburg Village: The Plunder of Buck Ranch,, Cole Ranch and the Universe Effigy Part I,, and Cole Ranch and the Universe Effigy Part II

The Stearns Ranchos Co.
   Colonel Robert "Diamond Bob" Northam was the land broker as the Stearns Ranchos Co. began selling off parcels of land on the former Rancho La Bolsa Chica.  Read more about Col. Northam,

RIGHT: By the time the property was deeded to Rev. Terasawa in 1908, local farmers were already beginning to struggle with celery blight.  An agricultural experiment station was established in the area of present-day Golden West College to test and provide instruction for local farmers. (California Agricultural Experiment Station No. 3, 1909)

   Henry Winters represents Orange County's agricultural interests at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  A marked success, the little community forming in the peatlands names the village after him, Wintersburg VillageHenry Winters' farm was located on the north side of present-day Warner Avenue, between Gothard and Goldenwest streets.  Read about Henry Winters, 

   The first Issei (Japanese immigrants) arrive in Orange County.  The first Japanese in America--a small group of Samurai--arrived in 1869 in Placer County, California, to establish the Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm.  In Orange County, Tsurumatsu "T.M." Asari is reportedly the first Japanese immigrant.  Asari opened a "feed and seed" and dry goods market in Wintersburg Village, farmed, and later established one of the three goldfish farms.  There is an "Asari Lane" on the north side of Warner Avenue, between Newland and Magnolia streets, in the vicinity of land farmed by T.M. Asari.

   Clergy begin outreach in the celery fields of Smeltzer and Wintersburg Village.  The early meetings were held in a borrowed barn in Wintersburg Village.

LEFT: Charles Furuta arrived in Orange County by 1904, roughly five to seven years after William Newland purchased the land for his home (the Newland House Museum in Huntington Beach). (Photo courtesy of the Furuta family, 1904) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

   The Wintersburg Japanese Mission is founded after a community meeting in the Armory building in Wintersburg Village.  The founders include Episcopalians, Buddhists, Presbyterians and Methodists. One of the signators to the founding document, circa 1904, is Tsurmatsu "T.M." Asari, also noted as a founder of the Orange County Buddhist Church.

   The Gentleman's Agreement between the United States and Japan.  The Agreement was that the United States would not impose restriction on Japanese immigration, and Japan would not allow further emigration to the United States.

   The five-acre parcel now known as Historic Wintersburg was purchased from a group including John and Forest DuBois, Ida Caldwell (noted on the deed as an unmarried woman), Wallace and Emma (sp) Blaylock, who would have purchased the land from the Stearns Ranchos Co.  These are the parties noted on the March 2, 1908 deed when the property's purchase was facilitated by Reverend Barnabus Hisayoshi Terasawa, with financial assistance from Charles Furuta.

1909 - 1910:
   Construction of the Wintersburg Japanese Mission and manse (parsonage) at Historic Wintersburg.  The Mission opens in 1910. 

RIGHT: The Wintersburg Japanese Mission congregation in 1910. (Los Angeles Times, September 2, 1984)

   In February 1912, Rev. Terasawa and his wife, Fuku, wanted to return full time to their home in San Francisco.  The Historic Wintersburg property was deeded to Charles Furuta, with the small 50-foot by 150-foot lot on the northwest corner dedicated to the Wintersburg Japanese Mission, under the guidance of Rev. Yutaro Nakamura, who was heading the Mission project.

RIGHT: Reverend Terasawa, Wintersburg Japanese Mission, stands to the right of Huntington Beach Mayor Eugene French, at center. Charles Mitsuji Furuta--owner of the Furuta farm at Historic Wintersburg--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.  (Courtesy of Wintersburg Church, May 31, 1912) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

   Also in 1912, Charles Furuta and Rev. Terasawa, as well as others from the Wintersburg Japanese Mission and the Japanese Association contributed to fundraising to help re-build the Huntington Beach pier.  At an event at the Huntington Inn on May 31, 1912, the Japanese immigrant community stands with the first mayors of the Huntington Beach Township to kick off fundraising.

 LEFT: Donations and support for the Wintersburg Japanese Mission came from around Orange County. The donations of non-Japanese, "American Friends", were recognized at the Mission dedication and remains in the present-day Wintersburg Church archives. ("American Friends who helped to build Chapel and Manse", 1910 A.D.) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

California enacts the Alien Land Law of 1913 (Webb-Haney Act), prohibiting aliens "ineligible for citizenship" from owning property. Japanese immigrants are prohibited from becoming citizens.

   First goldfish pond on the Furuta farm at Historic Wintersburg. Eventually, goldfish ponds would cover the majority of the property.

   Elders and congregants of the Wintersburg Japanese Mission and members of the Smeltzer Japanese Association in Wintersburg Village raise funds for the American Red Cross.  The large group reported by the Santa Ana Register on July 3 as contributing includes goldfish farmers Charles and Yukiko Furuta, Henry and Masuko Akiyama, Mission elder Kyutaro Ishii, and Tashima market owners Gunjiro and Masako Tashima.

   California Alien Land Law of 1920 adds further restrictions, prohibiting short-term leases of land to "aliens not eligible for citizenship", which again is aimed at Japanese immigrants. 

   The first Japanese American baseball team is formed in Orange County.  By 1925, the team was practicing in Wintersburg Village on a dirt lot next to the Tashima market, across from the Wintersburg Japanese Mission.

  The Huntington Beach Board of Trustees (city council) voted on September 4, 1923, to contribute $100 to the American Red Cross Japanese Relief Fund, following the Great Kanto Earthquake on September 1, 1923, which had a death toll exceeding 140,000. The Santa Ana Register reported the collection of "peace dollars" by Orange County churches (coins minted in 1922 to commemorate a peace conference in Washington, D.C.).  Leading a local effort, Reverend Junzo Nakamura of the Wintersburg Japanese Mission raised $10,000 by September 10.  San Francisco urges support, recalling Japan was the first country to send aid to them after their 1906 earthquake.

RIGHT: The Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce collected funds from the community to send to the American Red Cross for the Japan Relief Fund. Millions were raised from around the country to assist recovery efforts in Tokyo. (Santa Ana Register, September 5, 1923) 

  Hilda Hill, a 23-year-old University of California graduate from Huntington Beach, was with a tour group in Tokyo, organized by the Southern California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. After several days, the Santa Ana Register reported word was received that Hill and her group were safe and "well cared for" at the Nikko Imperial Shrine in Tokyo.

   On November 10, 1923, the Santa Ana Register reports "an echo of the disaster" when news is received that the wife of a former pastor of the Wintersburg Japanese Mission, Reverend K. Kobayashi, had been killed along with their five children in the earthquake. Santa Ana rancher S. Nitta relays to the Santa Ana Register his correspondence from Japan and that "the Japanese people have been deeply touched at the manner in which America opened her purse to help them in their dire hour of need."

   Immigration Act of 1924 prohibits further emigration by Japanese to the United States.

   The Wintersburg Japanese Mission begins fundraising for a larger church building during the Great Depression.  The Mission is formally recognized as a Church by the Presbyterians U.S.A.  At the time of this recognition, the Mission effort was already 26 years in existence and noted in a Church history penned by Reverend Kenji Kikuchi as "one of the oldest Japanese churches in Southern California."

   The Long Beach earthquake causes significant damage throughout north Orange County, including in the Wintersburg Village area.  Residents in the area "tent out", waiting for aftershocks. 

LEFT: The Young Men's Association--part of the Smeltzer Japanese Association that met on the second floor of the Tashima market in Wintersburg Village--published Echo in 1933. The magazine includes serious essays and opinion pieces as well as humorous comments and poems, hand-drawn illustrations, and images of life in Orange County for the U.S.-born Nisei. On one photo page is featured the Wintersburg Japanese Mission. (Echo, 1933) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

   The Nisei generation--U.S.-born citizens--of the Orange County Young Men's Association publish Echo, a collection of essays, photographs and opinion pieces about life in Orange County and the future in America.

ABOVE: Attended by congregants and supporters from around Orange County, the Wintersburg Japanese Church opened its doors at a dedication in 1934.  The Church's iconic cornerstone was laid in October 1934, which the Santa Ana Register reported was in time for Thanksgiving. (Santa Ana Register, December 10, 1934)

Dedication and opening of the Wintersburg Japanese Church.  A crowd of over 700 people from around Orange County attend the dedication, which is reported on by the Santa Ana Register.  Along with songs and speeches, the niece of Charles and Yukiko Furuta, Sumi Akiyama, performed a violin solo, Romance, by Johan Svendsen.

   The Sino-Japanese war initiates, causing global tension. The conflict continues through 1945.

1938: Major flooding on the Santa Ana River washes out one of Wintersburg Village's three goldfish farmers, T.M. Asari.  The Huntington Beach News reports the loss at the Asari Goldfish Hatchery and that "motorists...gathered along the roadside to retrieve fish from the flood waters." 

RIGHT: T.M. Asari is reported as losing 750,000 valuable goldfish when the Santa Ana River flooded in 1938.  (Huntington Beach News, March 10, 1938)

   The Santa Ana Register publishes a history of Wintersburg Village--already recognized as one of the older 19th Century village settlements in Orange County--on November 22, noting "in 1903 a Japanese mission was organized by the Presbyterian denomination and it has now become a church in its own right with a resident pastor.  A fine stucco church building was erected five years ago."

1941: December 7 - Attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Immediate arrests and detentions of Wintersburg Village and Orange County residents of Japanese ancestry.  Among those first arrested are longtime Wintersburg Japanese Mission congregants, elders, teachers, clergy, and those considered community leaders.

LEFT: Immediate arrests were made of long-time Orange County residents, due to their occupation, civic involvement, or resident alien status. The Issei--the first generation to arrive in California--were not allowed to become U.S. citizens, and were automatically categorized as "enemy alien". On December 16, the first group of men--including those of Japanese and German ancestry--were taken from where they had been held at the Orange County jail in Santa Ana, to Los Angeles to be transported to Ft. Missoula, Montana. The Santa Ana Register wrote of the sad farewell by gathered families of the men, "Every note on the sober side of the human emotional scale was registered yesterday in front of the Orange County jail". (Santa Ana Register, December 16, 1941)

   February 19 - President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which mandates the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans from the West Coast. Approximately 120,000 are incarcerated, the majority are U.S.-born citizens.
RIGHT: The Los Angeles Times noted in 1972 the impact of Executive Order 9066 on American civil liberties in their book review of Executive Order 9066: The Internment of 110,000 Japanese Americans, by Maisie and Richard Conrat, California Historical Society, 1972.  (Los Angeles Times, February 27, 1972)

   February 20-21 - Charles Furuta interrogated by FBI at his farm, on the back porch sunroom of the 1912 bungalow. He is arrested and taken first to the Tuna Canyon Detention Station in Los Angeles County, and later, to the Lordsburg, New Mexico, camp run by the U.S. Army. The reasons for his arrest were that he was a landowner and community leader. Prohibited from becoming a U.S. citizen, he was classified as an "enemy alien".  He had lived in the United States for 42 years.

   Reverend Sohei Kowta, pastor of the Wintersburg Japanese Church is interrogated by the FBI and manages to convince them he should be allowed to remain and watch over women and children, until everyone is required to leave for incarceration.  He is allowed to remain until the May 17 departure.

   February 23 - The Santa Ana Register reports Reverend and Mrs. Kowta are invited guests to the Wintersburg Methodist Church, aka the Wintersburg M.E. Church (the present day Warner Avenue Baptist Church at Gothard and Warner streets) for the World Day of Prayer.  The Wintersburg M.E. Church effort was initiated at the same meeting in 1904 that prompted the Wintersburg Japanese Mission project.

LEFT: Reverend Sohei Kowta is a guest speaker at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, which helped found the Wintersburg Japanese Mission in 1904. He is gifted with books to take with him to the Colorado River Relocation Center (Poston) in Arizona. (Santa Ana Register, April 21, 1942)

   March 4 - At the FBI hearing held at the Tuna Canyon Detention Station in Los Angeles County for Wintersburg Japanese Mission and Church elder, Kyutaro Ishii (father of future Fountain Valley city council member Charles Ishii), a testimonial is provided by Nellie Wardlow DuRall.  Nellie is a descendant of one of Orange County's oldest pioneer families, Wardlow, after whom Huntington Beach's Wardlow Park is named. Nellie vouches for the character of Kyutaro Ishii--whom she has known since childhood--and states that, in her opinion, the Ishii family are "loyal Americans". Kyutaro Ishii is allowed by the FBI to return home to Orange County under Nellie's sponsorship until the departure date of May 17.  

   April - The final sermons are delivered at the Wintersburg Japanese Mission and to supporting organizations. Reverend Sohei Kowta is asked to speak by the Westminster Presbyterian Church.  Westminster clergy had helped found the Wintersburg Japanese Mission in 1904 and were part of the dedication of the Mission and Church buildings in 1910 and 1934. Read about the final sermon for the Wintersburg Japanese Church, The Sunday Before, at

   May 10 - Civilian Exclusion Orders No. 60 and No. 61, relating to the removal and incarceration of Orange County Japanese Americans are posted on telephone poles in in post offices on May 10,  

RIGHT: Civilian Exclusion Orders posted on a telephone pole in north Orange County. (Santa Ana Register, May 11, 1942)

   The Wintersburg Japanese Church is shuttered for the duration of World War II.  Over seven decades later in 2014, the Presbytery of Los Ranchos "extends its deepest apologies to the generations" for the "abandonment of your brothers and sisters in the PC(USA) during the Japanese American internment."

   May 17 - All Japanese Americans in Orange County were required to depart by May 17, 1942. In the Huntington Beach and Wintersburg Village area, many were instructed to gather at the Pacific Electric Railway station near the foot of the Huntington Beach pier to await the buses that would take them to the Colorado River Relocation Center, Poston, Arizona.  

Ladies from the Baptist Church provide coffee and donuts to those waiting at the station. Yukiko Furuta recalls in her 1982 oral history that friends, the Lopp and Delaverne families, "were very kind and even made lunch for them", before they reported to the Talbert Japanese Language School for the bus to Poston.  Read more at

1942 to 1945: 
The majority of Japanese Americans incarcerated (U.S. citizens) or interned (those classified as enemy alien) were confined for approximately three years. Some obtained work furloughs, allowing them to leave camp to work. Some enlisted in the military, as soon as that was allowed by the U.S. government. 

LEFT: General Joseph Stillwell traveled to Orange County to present a medal medal to the Masuda family, congregants of the Wintersburg Japanese Mission. Stillwell--accompanied by Army Captain Ronald Reagan--presented the Distinguished Service Cross to the parents of Kazuo Masuda, a member of the "Go For Broke" 442nd who was killed in action in Italy.  Decades later, President Ronald Reagan remembered Kazuo Masuda at the signing of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.  Kazuo Masuda was later recognized posthumously with a Congressional Gold Medal.  Read more at (Los Angeles Times, December 9, 1945)  

   Families begin to return to Orange County.  The Furutas begin recovering the farm, transitioning from goldfish farming to flower farming.  The Wintersburg Japanese Church reopens.

ABOVE: Water lilies blooming in a pond on the Furuta farm at Historic Wintersburg. (Furuta family collection, 2002) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Funeral services are held at the Wintersburg Japanese Church for Kazuo Masuda, with full military honors. A long funeral procession makes its way from the Church to Westminster Memorial Park, where today an annual Memorial Day Service is held by Kazuo Masdua Memorial VFW Post 3670. A middle school in Fountain Valley bears his name, which also is included on the memorial outside Huntington Beach city hall.

RIGHT: A member of the "Go For Broke" 442nd and Congressional Gold Medal recipient, Kazuo Masuda's name is included on the memorial outside Huntington Beach City Hall. (M. Urashima, 2015) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED  

   The City of Huntington Beach annexes Wintersburg Village. City initiates rezoning actions throught the 1950s and 1960s, changing agricultural land to commercial, industrial and residential.

The Los Angeles Times reports on August 3, that community groups in Huntington Beach are initiating an effort to save the Newland House.

   Having outgrown their buildings on the Furuta farm, the Wintersburg Japanese Church congregation moves to a new location in Santa Ana. The congregation remains today predominantly Japanese American.

ABOVE:  A view of the Northam Ranch House--the last headquarters for the Stearns Rancho Co.--from the roof of Huntington Beach city hall. (Photo, City of Huntington Beach archives)

January - Scientific Resources and Survey report produced for the City of Huntington Beach. The report does not include information about the former Wintersburg Village, Japanese pioneers, or the significant Tongva artifacts found on the Cole Ranch (Ocean View High School) on display in the Bowers Museum. The report does not include the massive burial uncovered in 1930 on the Buck Ranch in Wintersburg Village, widely reported in the Santa Ana Register and Huntington Beach News. The only properties noted for preservation are the "Newland Ranch and house" and the Morillo Adobe (which the consultant is unable to locate).

The report deemed the ranch house of Col. Robert Northam--one of the last of the land barons and the last owner of the Stearns Ranchos Co.--as "not an historically significant site worthy of preservation."  The Northam Ranch was subjected to vandalism, while local preservationists advocated saving it as a significant part of Huntington Beach history. It was lost to fire on March 22, 2000, after the property was proposed for development. Read more about "Diamond Bob" Northam and what is left of the Northam Ranch at

March - The City of Huntington Beach Open Space Conservation report identifies "old Japanese church" as a historical cultural landmark. The report was prepared for the City of Huntington Beach General Plan (Figure 24-1, "Important Historical - Cultural Landmarks"). 

The Newland House in Huntington Beach is identified as a potential museum and historic preservation project, marking the bicentennial of the United States. The Newland House and property had fallen into disrepair and was subjected to vandalism prior to community efforts to save and restore it. Today, the Newland House Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places and is managed by the Huntington Beach Historical Society.

ABOVE: An image of the 1912 Furuta bungalow from the 1983 Cultural Resource Survey report prepared for Caltrans. The report states the structures associated with the Furuta farm and Wintersburg Japanese Mission and Church are "potentially eligible for the National Register of Historic Places". (The Warner Avenue Widening and Reconstruction Project Located in the City of Huntington Beach, Scientific Resource Surveys, Inc. for PRC Toups Corporation, 1983)

City of Huntington Beach initiates a Sister City relationship with Anjo, Japan.

Cultural Resource Survey Report prepared by PRC Toups as part of the evaluation of Caltrans' Warner Avenue Widening and Reconstruction project. The report determines the structures associated with the Furuta farm and the Wintersburg Japanese Mission and Church are "potentially eligible for the National Register of Historic Places". The report notes, "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 transmogrification, as to virtually wipe out all vestiges of what was a vital prewar Japanese community in Wintersburg and elsewhere throughout the County."

City of Huntington Beach historic resources survey conducted. The focus is on the downtown area, omitting historic structures and sites located in north Huntington Beach, which pre-date or are as old as the Huntington Beach Township

RIGHT: The Historic Building Survey conducted by the Bowers Museum Japanese American Council in 1986 points to what is now known as Historic Wintersburg. Not all the historic structures noted in the survey remain today. (Historic Building Survey, Bowers Museum Japanese American Council, City of Huntington Beach archives, 1986)

Bowers Museum Japanese American Council conducts Historic Building Survey in 1986, which includes the Wintersburg Japanese Church and Mission, and Furuta bungalow, as important remaining resources of the Japanese pioneer community. 

City of Huntington Beach establishes Historic Resources Board.

City of Huntington Beach incorporates its Sister City relationship with Anjo, Japan. Read more on the City website at

City of Huntington Beach General Plan lists "Furuta House" and "Japanese Church" as Local Landmarks in Historic Resources Cultural Element, which had first been recognized in a report prepared for the 1973 City of Huntington Beach General Plan.

LEFT: The 1912 Furuta bungalow, as it appeared in 2002, with a manicured hedgerow, well maintained lawn and gardens. (Courtesy of Furuta family collection, 2002) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Rainbow Environmental Services purchases property.

2011: Notice of Preparation of draft Environmental Impact Report and Initial Study for Rainbow Environmental Services proposed General Plan Amendment, Zoning Map Amendment, and demolition or removal of existing structures at Warner-Nichols (Historic Wintersburg), stating the property and structures "have been identified in the Huntington Beach General Plan as having historical significance as local landmarks". The proposal would change the zoning to industrial and commercial, demolishing all six historic structures. There is no reason provided for the re-zoning and Rainbow Environmental Services states they have no plan to develop the property.

February - Historic Wintersburg blog first published by Mary Urashima, sharing oral histories, historical images and documents, and original research.

July - Huntington Beach city council creates Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force and directs Mary Urashima to chair the task force.

ABOVE: Excerpt from the National Park Service inspection report for Historic Wintersburg conducted in 2013, noting "the property is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places". (Historic Wintersburg Site Visit, National Park Service, 2013)

January - The historic resources survey, prepared for the City of Huntington Beach by Galvin Associates, upgrades the historical status of Historic Wintersburg as qualifying for the National Register of Historic Places.  The survey reaches the same conclusion noted thirty years earlier in 1983 by Caltrans. The survey follows recognition forty years early in 1973 by the City of Huntington Beach that the property is an important historical cultural landmark.

June to August - Representatives from the National Park Service inspect the Historic Wintersburg property and provide a written inspection report. The NPS concludes Historic Wintersburg is "eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A in association with Japanese American settlement in the American West." 

September - Historic Wintersburg Task Force chair Mary Urashima works with producers for the Our American Family series to bring the story of the Furuta family to public television. Filming is conducted on the Historic Wintersburg property. Actress Takayo Tsubouchi Fischer (Pirates of the Caribbean, Moneyball, The Pursuit of Happyness) provides the voice for the oral history of Yukiko Furuta.

November - Huntington Beach City Council, in split vote, certifies Environmental Impact Report to rezone the property industrial and commercial zoning, and the application for demolition of all six historic structures. Lawsuit is filed by the Ocean View School District, which includes stay of demolition. Lengthy legal process continues through 2016.

March - Historic Wintersburg in Huntington Beach is published by History Press. (Cover image, History Press / Arcadia Publishing, © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

June - Historic Wintersburg is named one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

October - Republic Services purchases Rainbow Environmental Services

January - Introductions and discussions with Republic Services regarding acquisition (lease or purchase) of property initiated.

February - Our American Family: The Furutas of Historic Wintersburg premiers at the Japanese American National Museum and begins airing on public television stations around the country.

June - Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force funds the Urban Land Institute analysis with guidance from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Major stakeholders provide input into the analysis, including Huntington Beach city council members, the property owner, school district officials and neighborhood residents.  The $15,000 analysis is provided at no cost to Rainbow Environmental Services or to the City of Huntington Beach.

October - Historic Wintersburg is designated a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  At the time of this designation, there are approximately 60 National Treasures in the United States. This is the first, and to-date, the only National Treasure in Orange County.

January - Discussions continue with new corporate representatives for Republic Services--owner of Rainbow Environmental Services--regarding acquisition (lease or purchase) of the Historic Wintersburg property.

February - Anonymous cyber harassment, doxxing and online slander directed at Historic Wintersburg, which continues throughout 2016. A police report is filed.

May -  Our American Family: The Furutas of Historic Wintersburg airs nationally on PBS stations nationwide.

ABOVE: A crew from Tsuzuki Tree Service clearing brush and trimming branches away from the 1934 Wintersburg Japanese Church, to prevent damage due to weight, or damage during rain or wind events. Mike Tsuzuki, owner of Tsuzuki Tree Service donated over $10,000 work on behalf of the Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force at no cost to Republic Services. (Photo, M. Urashima, June 8, 2016) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

June - Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force conducted tree trimming next to historic structures as a preliminary stabilization action, with permission of Republic Services. Over $10,000 worth of work is contributed by Fountain Valley's Tsuzuki Tree Service at no cost to Republic Services. Read more at

ABOVE: One of the items found during cultural monitoring is a concrete base, once used to support the tennis court netting on the Furuta farm in the 1910s.  The base matches what is shown in historical photographs of the tennis court and was found in the approximate location of the earthen court. (Photo, M. Urashima, August 29, 2016) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
August - Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force provides volunteer cultural monitoring during City of Huntington Beach public works improvements on Nichols Lane, west of the Furuta farm and Wintersburg Japanese Mission.  Volunteers contributed hours of monitoring and purchased "out-of-pocket" (no Task Force funds) the necessary equipment to conduct monitoring, at no cost to Republic Services or to the City of Huntington Beach.  The public works project includes the addition of a temporary pedestrian walk on the east side of Nichols Lane, requiring one fence line tree removal. City public works crews planted two California Pepper trees on the Historic Wintersburg property as mitigation, to match the existing California Pepper trees next to the 1910 Mission building.  Access to the property for cultural monitoring and tree planting is granted by Republic Services to the Task Force; Republic Services also defers to the Task Force regarding where the replacement trees should be planted.

October - Republic Services informs City of Huntington Beach city council liaisons, Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force, city attorney and National Trust for Historic Preservation that they are open to and will engage in discussions regarding the acquisition of Historic Wintersburg for preservation as a heritage site with park uses.

November - Republic Services and Ocean View School District reach settlement on litigation.

January - Republic Services introduces new management team at the former Rainbow Environmental Services and reaffirms the discussions with the Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force and City of Huntington Beach will move forward regarding acquisition for full preservation of property as a heritage site.

February - Historic Wintersburg marks the 75th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, which mandated the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans, including all those associated with Historic Wintersburg and all Japanese Americans in Orange County

LEFT: Historic Wintersburg was one of many organizations who participated in the Day of Remembrance at the Japanese American National Museum on the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066. (Photo, M. Urashima, February 18, 2017) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

March - Trust for Public Land inspects Historic Wintersburg, with Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force chair Mary Urashima and National Trust for Historic Preservation Christina Morris. The Trust for Public Land--who assisted with land acquisition to preserve Bolsa Chica Wetlands acreage--plans to assist with the acquisition and visioning for Historic Wintersburg.

May - For the third year, Our American Family: The Furutas of Historic Wintersburg airs nationally on PBS stations nationwide. The program also is released internationally on Amazon Prime in the United States and in Japan.

As of May 26, the Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force formally requested of City Council liaisons that the Task Force be scheduled for a televised Huntington Beach City Council study session to provide a five-year update to the community. The presentation is planned to include Task  Force partners, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Trust for Public Land.  As of June 21, the City Council has not scheduled a public study session.

RIGHT: Vandalism to a house of worship. The 1934 Wintersburg Japanese Church is tagged 75 years after the clergy and congregation were forcibly removed and incarcerated. The status of Historic Wintersburg remains endangered. (June 6, 2017) © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

June - The 1934 Wintersburg Japanese Church building is vandalized with tagging, as well as the fence line along Warner Avenue and Nichols Lane, the evening of June 5.  The Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force offers to assist with painting the building and cleaning up area debris on the property's perimeter, to improve the appearance during the ongoing discussions with the property owner.

Cyber harassment, doxxing and online slander directed at Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force following vandalism of property.

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.