Wintersburg Village’s unique history is representative of the Japanese pioneer experience on the West Coast. Japan’s post-Meiji period ended the feudal system, creating in the late 1800s social changes that prompted Japanese immigration to America. Many who settled in the Wintersburg countryside were of samurai ancestry, bringing an enterprising spirit to Orange County’s businesses and farms.
The village’s history encompasses early aviation, archaeological discoveries, the county’s oldest Japanese church, goldfish farming and overcoming discrimination to achieve civil liberties. Forcibly evacuated and confined during World War II, Japanese pioneers left an indelible mark on Southern California.
Absorbed by the City of Huntington Beach, Wintersburg remains mostly a memory. Join the author as she resurrects a vanishing chapter of Orange County.
Urashima is a former journalist, with 30 years in media, governmental and public affairs. Her work has involved local and regional governmental issues, environmental and land-use projects, and major infrastructure projects. She authors two local history blogs, Historic Wintersburg and Historic Huntington Beach, and chairs the community effort to preserve the property known as Historic Wintersburg, located at the southeast corner of Warner Avenue and Nichols Lane.
Under her leadership, the Historic Wintersburg Presbyterian Task Force has sought to prevent the demolition of buildings on the site — the 1912 home of Charles Mitsuji and Yukiko Furuta, the farm’s barn (circa 1908-1912), the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Mission (1909-1910), the Manse (clergy member home, 1910), and the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Church (1934). The structures are proposed for demolition by the current property owner. A Focused Environmental Impact Report on cultural and historical resources was certified by a split vote of the Huntington Beach City Council on Nov. 4, 2013.
The City Council and the property owner, Rainbow Environmental Services, agreed to provide an 18-month window to allow the task force time to raise funds to either buy the property should the property owner agree, or move the structures to a new location.
Urashima has received recognition for her civic work from congressional representatives, state legislators and local government agencies. She has served as a political appointee in the areas of regional transportation and municipal redevelopment, and as a public official for infrastructure, human relations and historic preservation efforts. She was also president of a chamber of commerce, a founding president of a multi-city senior citizen nutrition program, and a board member for a Boys and Girls Club, an international humanitarian organization, and a community volunteer center.
She is one of ten Californians to receive the 2008 Civil Rights Leadership Award from the California Association of Human Relations Organizations and was recognized as one of the “Women Who Make a Difference” by the Orange County Community Forum. An advocate for historic preservation, Urashima writes with a goal of furthering the understanding of America’s diverse history and cultures.
A book-signing will take place on Sunday, March 9, at 2 p.m. at Barnes & Noble at the Bella Terra, 7881 Edinger Ave. #110, Huntington Beach. Urashima will display rare photographs of life in early 1900s Orange County, including the Peatlands’ farmers, preachers, tycoons and outlaws; Wintersburg’s historic goldfish and flower farm; and California’s pioneer Japanese mission trail.
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