JACL Heritage Center Fundraising Dinner. On Saturday, September 24, 2016, JACL/HC held its popular fundraising dinner from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the JACL Hall located at 424 Adams Street in Monterey. A tasty, authentic Japanese bento dinner was cooked and served by members and friends of the Heritage Center. Percussive entertainment was provided by the taiko drumming group Shinsho-Mugen Daiko. Those attending viewed a special 10-minute video produced by J.T. Byrne, a local peninsula school student. This short film is about the history and uplifting impact of baseball on the lives of Japanese Americans during their years in the WWII internment camps. At the event, a silent auction and raffle prizes added fun and enjoyment.
All proceeds will go toward JACL/HC projects. One of our current Heritage projects is the production of a 26 minute documentary film about the original 1945 petitions signed by local citizens welcoming back Japanese Americans from the internment camps. David Schendel, producer and videographer, shared some words about progress and goals for this documentary film. We plan to have this documentary integrated into secondary school curricula, available to colleges, and shown on television stations. Another key project is the JACL/Heritage museum featuring artifacts, images and documents that represent the history and cultural heritage of the Issei and Nisei on the Monterey Peninsula. Under the curatorship of Tim Thomas, the museum is progressing nicely and will be open for viewing by dinner guests.
Family Stories. The Heritage Center has launched a series of interviews with persons who have been either members of pioneer, Japanese immigrant families or long-time residents on the Monterey Peninsula. The purpose of these interviews is to collect information about the Japanese and Japanese American experience and to understand more fully the nature and impact of that experience. Videos of this series of Family Stories will be placed in the Heritage Museum archives and will be made available to schools and general public.
The interviews will be videotaped thereby providing voice and image records to add to the JACL/HC archives. The interviews will supplement existing documents and information gained from other sources including the Honor the Nisei project and The Japanese of the Monterey Peninsula, a book written and published by the JACL Oral History Committee.
On February 20, 2016, Saturday, the first in this series of interviews was conducted with the Yoshida/Yamamoto family involving interviewees representing three generations. This event was held at the JACL Hall, starting at 1:00 p.m. The Hall is located at 424 Adams Street (across from Jacks baseball park) in Monterey, Ca. Future interviews for Family Stories will be announced here. The public is welcome to attend.
Special Historic Event: JACL Hall, 90th Anniversary Celebration.
On Saturday, April 30, 2016, the Monterey Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) celebrated the 90th anniversary of the historic JACL Hall, located at 424 Adams Street in Monterey. On a warm, sunny day, guests were greeted outside the Hall's front door by the powerful percussive sounds of the Shinsho-Mugen Daiko drum group. Inside the Hall, the program began at 2:00 p.m. with welcoming remarks by JACL president, Jeff Uchida, and introduction of special guests including Mayor Clyde Roberson, City of Monterey, and Mayor Bill Kampe, City of Pacific Grove. Other highlights included songs by students from the Monterey Japanese Language School, a demonstration of the Urasenke Tea Ceremony, and an informal discussion about the Hall with local historians Sandy Lydon and Tim Thomas. At the conclusion of the program, guests mingled to exchange stories and enjoy the sushi, desserts and refreshments.
Still located at its original site, ground was broken in 1925 and construction was completed in 1926. It was initially known as the Japanese Association Hall because the Nihonjinkai (Japanese Association) spearheaded the fund raising by getting pledges from the Monterey Japanese community.
A center of community activity, the Hall was used for group meetings, social events, weddings, Japanese language school, religious services, and served as a place where community members could get legal and financial advice. At the start of WWII, ownership title was transferred from Issei leaders in Nihonjinkai to Nisei in the JACL. From 1942-1945, the California National Guard used the JACL Hall as an armory. In July of 1945, the Hall was converted into a hostel to provide temporary housing for people returning from the internment camps.
Periodically, the JACL Hall has been refurbished and upgraded to keep out the rain and to preserve the building's structural and historical integrity. Most currently, the Hall has a completely renovated kitchen and the JACL/HC has converted basement space into a museum that houses artifacts and documents reflecting the history and culture of Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans on the Monterey Peninsula. Today the JACL Hall remains a rare and distinctive example of an architectural style known as Western false front. In April of 2003 the Hall was designated as a historic landmark by the City of Monterey.
It is this unique history that the JACL honored and celebrated on April 30, 2016, an event attended by about 125 people. JACL is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donations, always appreciated, are tax deductible.