A fire damaged a 112-year-old historic manse in Huntington Beach, Calif., according to The Orange County Register. The newspaper reported the structure, one of six historic buildings at the Wintersburg Japanese Mission in Huntington Beach, caught fire the morning of Feb. 25 and sustained “heavy damage.”
According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, six historic buildings remained on the historic Wintersburg property, the site of the oldest Japanese mission in Orange County: two homes of the Furuta family built in 1912 and 1947, the 1910 Christian mission, the mission’s manse (a home for clergy), the 1934 Wintersburg Japanese Church buildings and a barn built sometime between 1908 and 1912.
The Register reported that Mary Urashima, historian and chair of the Historic Wintersburg Preservation effort, said anti-Japanese sentiments have been posted in an “orchestrated online harassment” to target the preservation efforts, since 2016 and suggested the fire may have been racially motivated arson.
Proponents of the site’s preservation, including Urashima, criticized Republic Services, current owners of the property, for demolishing a portion of the damaged property after the fire, and further criticized them for “neglect of the property,” according to the Register.
The newspaper reported an arson investigation is ongoing.