Saturday, October 11, 2014

New historical photography displayed at Huntington Beach's Main Street Library

ABOVE: Enter the main reading room at the Main Street Library and look up! An exhibit of historical images from Historic Wintersburg in Huntington Beach grace the walls.  Informational materials are at the front counter. (Photo, October 2014)

   It's only fitting that the Main Street Library---listed along with Triangle Park on the National Register for Historic Places in fall 2013---host historical photography exhibits that share the story of Huntington Beach.

  The third in a series of exhibits---organized by the Huntington Beach Historic Resources Board---was just installed, featuring images from the Wintersburg Village (AKA Historic Wintersburg).  The Wintersburg Village---which began forming in the late 1800s---was a distinct population center from the Huntington Beach Township on early U.S. Census records.  It was annexed into Huntington Beach in 1957, but was connected with Huntington Beach commerce, civic events and daily life from the beginning.  

ON THE NATIONAL REGISTER - The Huntington Beach historical photography exhibit is at the Main Street Library, 525 Main Street, on Triangle Park. Both the mid-Century modern Library and Triangle Park were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in fall, 2013, after an effort by local residents. Look for the grandfather clock inside, crafted by the Huntington Beach High School class of 1915.

   The photography exhibit images reveal shared history with the pioneer settlement era of Huntington Beach.

   Historic Wintersburg was named in June 2014 as one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  There is a current effort to save the six historic structures and 4 1/2-acre property from demolition, which could occur as early as May 2015.  It is the only historical place of its type in California.

INSPIRED - The images of Historic Wintersburg have caught the imagination of many across the country.  This painting is the work of Phoenix artist, Julie Cox, inspired after reading the the blog and book, Historic Wintersburg in Huntington Beach. (Image courtesy of Julie Cox, Phoenix, Arizona, 2014) © All rights reserved.

Here's what you'll view:

A BUNGALOW IN WINTERSBURG: Yukiko Furuta, standing on the steps of her new home in Wintersburg Village in 1913, facing what was then the muddy country road that was Wintersburg Avenue (now, a paved, multi-lane Warner Avenue). This bungalow---with its original red iron oxide paint and sharp, white trim---is one of six historic structures still standing at Historic Wintersburg

FOUNDING FATHER - At left, a snip of the full image in the exhibit, taken on the steps of the Huntington Inn, May 1912.  The exhibit photograph shows Huntington Beach's first mayor, Ed Manning, among a crowd that included four of Huntington Beach's first mayors, along with goldfish farmer Charles Furuta and a founder of the Wintersburg Mission, Reverend Hisakichi Terasawa. (Photo courtesy of the Furuta family) © All rights reserved.
CROWDFUNDING FOR THE PIER, VERSION 1912: On the steps of the Huntington Inn in 1912, leaders from Wintersburg Village’s Japanese American community and the Huntington Beach township leadership, standing together. In the photograph are four of Huntington Beach's first mayors: Ed Manning, Matthew Helme, Thomas Talbert and Eugene French (front and center). Historic Wintersburg's Charles Furuta is standing at the front left row below the first step.  It is believed this meeting was about fundraising to rebuild the Huntington Beach pier, which had just been blown down by a Pacific storm.  When the pier was rededicated in 1914, the Japanese community was prominently featured in the celebrations right after a surfing demonstration by George Freeth.  Placed high on the agenda (indicating significant support), they performed a sword dance just before the concert band finale and illumination of the pier.  Thousands attended the ceremonies.

AFTER 26 YEARS - At right, a snip of the full image in the exhibit, the congregation and clergy from Wintersburg and nearby Westminster gather to celebrate their official designation as a Church in 1930. (Photo courtesy of Wintersburg Presbyterian Church) © All rights reserved.

A DREAM REALIZED: An image of the community and congregation that supported the Wintersburg Mission effort, founded in 1904 after clergy began reaching out in 1902 to workers arriving in the celery fields.  The Mission group first met in a barn in Wintersburg Village. The first Mission building was constructed by 1910.  In 1930, the date of the exhibit photograph, the Mission had been officially recognized as a Church by the Presbyterian Church USA.  Look in the distance, and you'll see the bungalow of Charles and Yukiko Furuta.

DON'T LOOK DOWN - A snip of a full image similar to that in the exhibit, Charles Furuta of Historic Wintersburg, driving his horse and wagon up the Southern Pacific Railroad siding at Wintersburg, circa 1914-1915. The full image at the Main Street Library shows Furuta dumping the wagonload of sugar beets into a railroad car. (Photo courtesy of the Furuta family). © All rights reserved.

SUGAR BEET DAYS: Did you know Huntington Beach, Wintersburg and Smeltzer once produced thousands of tons of sugar beets?  Huntington Beach township was the site of one of the Holly Sugar Company factories, processing the giant roots into the sweet stuff we love.  The exhibit includes an image of Charles Furuta dumping a wagonload of sugar beets from an elevated platform into a Southern Pacific rail car at a railroad siding in the Wintersburg Village area, circa 1914-1915.  The Southern Pacific tracks can still be seen today, parallel to Gothard Avenue.

PIONEER AVIATION - A snip of the full image for the Smeltzer Flying Company, a photograph taken by Charles Furuta on the day aviator Koha Takeishi flew into Wintersburg, March, 1913.  The farmers in Wintersburg and Smeltzer raised $4,000 to buy Takeishi his plane.  The entire Wintersburg community came out to see the plane, dressed in their Sunday best. (Photo courtesy of the Furuta family) © All rights reserved.

SMELTZER FLYING COMPANY: At the time of the Wright Brothers, Japanese aviator Koha Takeishi was a young man visting from Japan, attending college in Utah.  Takeishi worked the celery fields in Wintersburg during his summer breaks and managed to take flying classes at the Curtiss Flying School in north San Diego County.  Japanese farmers in Wintersburg were so impressed, they formed the Smeltzer Flying Company and raised $4,000 to help him buy his own plane.  This photo, taken by Charles Furuta in March 1913, is from Takeishi's flight from Dominguez airfield in Los Angeles a field in Wintersburg.  Read more about the Smeltzer Flying Company on our sister blog, Historic Wintersburg in Huntington Beach,

GAMUT OF EMOTIONS - A snip of the full image in the exhibit reveals the range of emotions on school picture day at Ocean View Grammar School.
(Photo courtesy of the Furuta family) © All rights reserved.

GRAMMAR SCHOOL DAYS: Farm children in the Smeltzer and Wintersburg Village areas (now both part of north Huntington Beach) attended the Ocean View Grammar School which was located at the southwest corner of Beach Boulevard and Warner Avenue (where the Comerica building stands today). Among the students in the photograph are children from the Furuta and Akiyama families, two of Wintersburg Village’s three goldfish farmers.  You can almost feel the anxious excitement of the children in this photograph, ready for the end of the school day when they can run back through the rural countryside to home.

Learn about Huntington Beach's unique pioneer history!
   Stop by the Main Street Library to see the full, original images from our pioneer settlement days!  Learn more about Historic Wintersburg at our sister blog,

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