OC Preservation Talk to Include Wintersburg Rep

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The Furuta home, pictured in 2011, is part of the Historic Wintersburg site. (Photo by Chris Jepsen)

ORANGE — The Orange County Historical Society will discuss grassroots historical preservation efforts currently under way throughout the county at its next meeting on Thursday, April 11, at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St. in Orange.

Speakers will include Mary Adams Urashima of the Historic Wintersburg project in Huntington Beach.

This program will not only shine a light on a variety of important grassroots campaigns, but will also serve as an unofficial introduction to preservation for those who may wish to attend the 2013 California Preservation Foundation Conference, which will be held in Garden Grove in May.

Urashima, author of the Historic Wintersburg blog, researches oral histories, old newspapers and documents to find and share stories relating to Historic Wintersburg, now threatened with a zone change and demolition by the current landowners. As the most prominent figure driving preservation efforts for the historic community, she will provide an update on the current status of the situation, as well as a brief overview of the site’s history.

Wintersburg came to greater public attention two years ago after OCHS held a panel discussion on the fate of the remains of the historically significant Japanese American community (now part of north Huntington Beach). Still standing on the five-acre property is the original barn and 1912 bungalow of Charles Mitsuji and Yukiko Furuta — a rare Japanese-owned property, purchased before California’s Alien Land Law of 1913; the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Mission (founded 1904, constructed 1910) — the oldest Japanese church in Southern California; the 1910 manse (clergy home); and the Depression-era 1934 church.

Also scheduled to speak are:

Ilse Byrnes, who has worked diligently and successfully to preserve San Juan Capistrano’s historic sites since the early 1970s, when she became involved with the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society. She has been instrumental in placing 13 sites on the National Register of Historic Places, and is currently working to make the first school site in L.A./O.C. an official California Point of Historical Interest, and to save the threatened 1917 San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) power station north of Downtown.

John Linnert, a third-generation City of Orange native who has practiced architecture throughout Orange County for more than 20 years. Recently he has become involved with the preservation efforts for Mariners Medical Arts, an architecturally and culturally significant medical office complex at 1901 Westcliff Dr. in Newport Beach. This complex, designed in 1963 by world-renowned modernist architect Richard Neutra, has been threatened in recent years with demolition and/or incompatible alterations and expansions. Mariners Medical Arts consists of three structures connected by serene gardens and covered walkways.

Jeannie Gillett, president of The Old Orchard Conservancy, who will discuss her group’s efforts to purchase, restore, renovate, and operate for public benefit. She will also share the history of the Sexlinger Home and orange grove at 1584 E. Santa Clara Ave. in Santa Ana. Although the five-acre property is on the city’s Register of Historical Properties, the current owners plan to demolish the Craftsman-style farmhouse and 230 Valencia orange trees for new development. Gillett, a certified pediatric nurse at CHOC, is an associate board member of the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society.

For more information on the Orange County Historical Society, visit http://orangecountyhistory.org/.

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