Winters Museum opening doors to community, planning new exhibit

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Like so many other businesses, the Winters Museum closed to the public in 2020 due to COVID-19. They announced they’re ready to reopen their doors this Saturday.

Rob Coman, a Historical Society of Winters board member, said the Winters Museum will re-open to the public between 1-5 p.m. on Saturday, May 8. Thereafter, the museum will maintain regularly scheduled hours on Thursdays through Sundays from 1–5 p.m.

Photos of Japanese community members, like this one of Roy Hiramatsu, will be on display in an upcoming exhibit planned at the Winters Museum this June.
Courtesy photo

The museum is preparing an exhibit for June recognizing the “Lost Japanese Community of Winters.” The dates of the exhibit will be announced later this month.

Gloria Lopez, curator of the exhibit and Historical Society secretary, said in the early 1900s Japanese workers immigrated to Winters from the area of Wakayana, Japan. However, under the California Alien Land Law of 1913, they were precluded from owning land and from obtaining land leases longer than three years.

Japanese immigrants also owned businesses. The Horai Company General store was the first Japanese owned store in Winters and remained open until the establishment of internment camps in 1942.

At that time, Lopez said, there were over 200 Japanese residents in Winters. When the U.S. Supreme Court ended internment camps in 1945, she said only 20 returned to Winters.

In 1952, the Alien Land Law was invalidated by the California Supreme Court and Japanese could become landowners.

Over the years, family members of the lost Japanese community have shared their memories, family stories and photographs with the historical society. These memories have been collected and preserved to provide a glimpse into the history of their contribution to Winters.

The Winters Museum is located at 13 Russell St. Entry to the museum is free, but donations are accepted.

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