The Society for History in the Federal Government has presented the 2014 John Wesley Powell Prize for Outstanding Historic Preservation to Manzanar National Historic Site for the restoration of the mess hall garden in Block 12.
The award stated that the Manzanar restoration project, which entailed uncovering and restoring the Japanese garden’s pond, stream, rock pathways, hills, waterfall, fencing, and other landscaping features and trees was “judged to be an excellent example of preservation and interpretation of cultural resources associated with the relocation of Japanese Americans during World War II. Through a combination of archaeological survey, historic photograph analysis, oral history, and historical document research, Manzanar’s staff and volunteers recreated a symbol of resilience, beauty, and peace within the larger landscape of racial prejudice.”
Named in the award nomination, submitted by Superintendent Les Inafuku before he retired in January, were Jeff Burton, Cultural Resources Program manager; Gerry Enes, arborist; John Kepford, historic preservation specialist; and Laura Ng, archaeologist.
Ng accepted the award on behalf Manzanar at the annual meeting of the Society for History in the Federal Government in Shepherdstown, W.Va. The society brings together government professionals, academics, consultants, students, and citizens in the crucial work of providing historical context and transparency for an informed citizenry.
The Block 12 Mess Hall Garden restoration project furthered that mission, using the preservation activities themselves as public education and interpretation. The Powell Prize recognized not only the innovative way the project integrated archaeological data with archival research and oral history, but also the way that staff and volunteers overcame a severe setback when floods of the summer of 2013 caused unexpected damage.
The public can now visit the Block 12 garden, which is located adjacent to the auto tour road.
The Manzanar Visitor Center features extensive exhibits, audio-visual programs, and a bookstore. It is open 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. Manzanar is located at 5001 Hwy. 395, six miles south of Independence. For more information, call (760) 878-2194 or visit www.nps.gov/manz.