Historic Wintersburg tells the story of Japanese pioneers as they built a community in Southern California. As a connection to the ways that residents lived, worked, and worshipped, this place honors the Japanese-American experience and the longstanding impact of a people whose tangible history was largely erased by anti-immigrant policies and incarceration during the 20th century. The National Trust is working with the Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force, Republic Services, the City of Huntington Beach, the Urban Land Institute, and local residents to re-imagine this important piece of American history to benefit a new immigrant community and to reactivate a historic gathering place for future generations.
“Historic Wintersburg is a unique cultural site that tells the important story of early Japanese-American immigrants as they sought to make a new life and build a community in Southern California,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, “We strongly support a collaborative effort that preserves Wintersburg’s historic landscape while building upon its longstanding role as an educational and supportive space for the Huntington Beach community.”
Historic Wintersburg documents three generations of Japanese-American experience, from immigration in the late 19th century to the return from incarceration following World War II. Purchased in 1908, the 4.5-acre historic landscape contains six structures, including the oldest Japanese mission in Orange County. A community of farmers, Wintersburg’s history parallels the rise of Orange County as a major agricultural and economic hub. It is also among the only surviving Japanese-American properties acquired before California passed anti-immigrant land laws in 1913 and 1920. Further, as the entire Wintersburg community was incarcerated during World War II, the site is iconic of our nation’s civil rights history and a reminder of the struggle for social justice that many immigrant communities continue to face today.
In June 2015, the Urban Land Institute convened a Technical Assistance Panel to help determine a future for Historic Wintersburg. Funded with community donations raised by the Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force and coordinated by the National Trust, the objective 9-member panel developed a report, which proposes a range of creative reuse alternatives for the 4.5-acre Historic Wintersburg site. Read the full report here.
- Identify a viable and sustainable adaptive reuse for the Wintersburg site that protects and honors its history while serving the surrounding community
- Conduct a professional rehabilitation analysis; work with the property owner and community stakeholders to build consensus around a shared path forward
Revive the only surviving remnant of a century-old Japantown to benefit an underserved community today.
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