Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Historic Wintersburg in Huntington Beach named a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation


Photo courtesy Historic Wintersburg

Photo courtesy Historic Wintersburg

LOGO_email(October 22, 2015) –Historic Wintersburg, an iconic, century-old Japanese American landscape in Huntington Beach, was named a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the nation’s leading historic preservation organization. This designation coincides with the release of a technical study by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) that proposes ways that the Historic Wintersburg site could be preserved for future generations and repurposed to enhance quality of life for nearby residents, while benefiting the greater Huntington Beach community.

Historic Wintersburg was named a National Treasure for its connections to Southern California’s early agricultural history and its significance as one of the only surviving properties purchased before California barred Japanese from owning land, a direct result of anti-Japanese hysteria in the early 20th century. The site also represents the injustice that thousands of Japanese American families faced, as the entire Wintersburg Church congregation—the majority of whom were American citizens—were forcibly removed and incarcerated during World War II.

The National Treasure designation comes as a new ULI report proposes a range of creative reuse alternatives for the 4.5-acre Historic Wintersburg site. Funded with community donations raised by the Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force and coordinated by the National Trust, the report is the result of an objective study following two intensive days of analysis and stakeholder interviews with community members, Huntington Beach elected officials, and representatives from Rainbow Environmental Services, which owns the historic property.

The study, the first-ever collaboration of its kind between ULI’s Los Angeles and Orange County/Inland Empire chapters, convened a panel of nine renowned professionals with expertise in urban planning, historic preservation, real estate development, housing and landscape design. The report recommends shared uses for the site that highlight the historic buildings and landscape, new construction to support small and local businesses, and expanded community amenities and green space.

“We’re proud to name Historic Wintersburg as our newest National Treasure,” said Stephanie K. Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “ULI’s expert analysis is a strong step toward restoring Wintersburg as a center of community life and shows that, through compromise and cooperation, we can preserve this important Japanese immigrant history to support a new immigrant community living in the area today. We are committed to working in partnership with the site’s owner, the neighborhood, and community stakeholders toward a solution that everyone can embrace.”

“Historic Wintersburg is among the only surviving reminders of Huntington Beach’s unique pioneer history and tells an incredibly important national story,” said Huntington Beach Mayor Jill Hardy. “I’m encouraged by ULI’s recommendation of a collaborative process to determine a viable future for the site and look forward to working with the community and property owner to restore Huntington Beach’s National Treasure.”

“This report, made possible by public donations, shows how a community-based approach can preserve our history,” said Mary Adams Urashima, chair of the Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force. “We are ready to work with all of the stakeholders toward a viable future for Historic Wintersburg that honors its important place in American history.”

“We appreciate the ULI team’s ideas and work,” noted Sue Gordon, Community Relations Manager of Rainbow Environmental Services. “We look forward to evaluating the report’s recommendations.”

Located in the Oak View neighborhood of Huntington Beach, the Historic Wintersburg site contains six structures, including the 1912 Furuta family home, 1910 Wintersburg Mission, and 1934 Wintersburg Church. While demolition is no longer an immediate threat, the site requires a long-term, viable reuse to return to its historic role as a neighborhood center and community gathering place.

The ULI study offers the following recommendations to guide the collaborative effort:

  • Preservation and reuse of historic structures and landscaped green space on the site’s north end;
  • Construction of new tech-oriented or small business space on the parcel’s south end;
  • A landscaped parking area that can double as space for outdoor fairs, festivals, or other community events;
  • Pedestrian access throughout the site to provide a walk-able environment within the Oak View neighborhood;
  • Formation of a “community council” of local stakeholders to guide the project and ensure the opinions of all stakeholders are heard and addressed.

National Treasures are a portfolio of nationally-significant historic places throughout the country where the National Trust makes a long-term commitment to finding a preservation solution. As part of its Historic Wintersburg campaign, the National Trust has employed its expertise in re-imagining historic sites to work with local partners toward a sustainable use for this important place. As the Presenting Partner of the National Treasures program, American Express has pledged $6.5 million to help promote and enable the preservation of these cultural and historic places.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places.

Lia Chang

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Blog, Jade Magazine and

Other Articles:
Photos: Camille Darby, Naveen Bahar Choudhury, Kristine M. Reyes, Diana Son, Michael Korie, Larry O’Keefe, Michael Weller, Tonya Pinkins, Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty and More at DG Fund Fellows Presentation 
Jose Llana, Christine Toy Johnson, Ann Harada, Ali Ewoldt, Raymond J. Lee, Josh Dela Cruz, Alan Ariano, Joanna Carpenter and more set for CHANGING THE STATS: ASIAN AMERICANS ON BROADWAY Concert on Nov. 2
Two-time Tony nominee and Emmy winner André De Shields and Broadway in Chicago President Lou Raizin to be honored at DePaul University theatre gala on Nov. 9
Film Lab Screening of ‪#‎72HrSO‬ Films at Time Warner Theater & Panel Discussion of Mass Media Constructions of Beauty George Takei, Lea Salonga, Telly Leung, Michael K. Lee and more at the first preview of Broadway’s Allegiance; opens Nov. 8 “Allegiance,” Featuring George Takei, Lea Salonga and Telly Leung, Opens November 8 Creating an Asian American presence on Wikipedia, one WikiAPA Edit-a-thon at a time Jaygee Macapugay set for Broadway Debut in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock-The Musical The King and I’s Special Performance Benefits The Actors Fund Hugs, Laughs and Photobombs By Tony Winners! Go Backstage at the Special Actors Fund Performance of The King and I Photo Flash: Phylicia Rashad, Andre De Shields & More Original Cast Members from THE WIZ Reunite in Central Park!
BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA Cast Reunion featured in BLACK BELT MAGAZINE August/September 2015
Drumhead Magazine: Living Colour Drummer Will Calhoun, Photos by Lia Chang Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Ruby Yang talks about her new film, My Voice, My Life Actor Tzi Ma Rides ‘Hell On Wheels’ to New Heights What’s Next for Sesame Street’s Alan Muraoka, Director of Critically Acclaimed The Report Sesame Street’s Alan Muraoka Directs New Off Broadway Drama THE REPORT Photo Flash: First Look at THE REPORT as Part of FringeNYC Arthur Dong’s Forbidden City, USA: Chinese American Nightclubs, 1936-1970 wins American Book Award Future Looks Bright for Asian American Cinema Retweet! BroadwayGirlNYC’s Picks For Most Useful Theatre Women on Social Media Hide And Seek With Actress Lia Chang The King and I’s Jose Llana, Ruthie Ann Miles and Betsy Morgan Perform Concert in the Park AAPI Heritage Month: My Grandmother’s Detention on Angel Island
Crafting a Career

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.
All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2015 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow Backstage Pass with Lia Chang on