11 Most Endangered Historic Places

Historic Wintersburg

Year Listed: 2014
Location: Huntington Beach, California
Threat: Demolition

Historic Wintersburg

Photo courtesy Historic Wintersburg

Significance

Wintersburg documents three generations of the Japanese American experience in the United States, from immigration in the late 19th century to the return from incarceration in internment camps following World War II. The site contains six extant pioneer structures and open farmland, and is one of the only surviving Japanese-owned properties acquired prior to California’s anti-Japanese "alien" land laws of 1913 and 1920. In contrast to Japanese American confinement sites from the World War II era, Historic Wintersburg captures the daily community life and spiritual institutions of Japanese settlers as they established a new life in America.

The site also chronicles the multigenerational story of the Furuta family, Japanese pioneers who cultivated a farm for close to a century, helped establish Japanese civic and business development organizations, and are a largely unrecognized part of Orange County’s history.

The property is currently owned by Rainbow Environmental Services (Rainbow), a waste transfer company. In November 2013, the Huntington Beach City Council voted to rezone the property from residential to commercial/industrial. The Council also approved a Statement of Overriding Consideration—an action which allows demolition of all six structures. Although Rainbow agreed to provide preservationists until mid 2015 to find solutions to save the historic property, demolition of the site remains a possibility.