Historic Harada House at risk of collapse

A historic property on Lemon Street, just a few miles from the UCR campus, may be in danger of collapse.

The Harada House, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, was donated to the city of Riverside in 2004 by Harold Harada, the youngest son of Jukuchi and Ken Harada, a Japanese couple who immigrated to the United States in 1905. In 1915, the Haradas’ home became the center of a legal battle that holds a place in the history of the civil rights movement: The family defied California’s Alien Land Law Act of 1913, which prohibited non-citizens from owning significant amounts of land.

The Haradas won the case in 1918, arguing that, since the house was technically owned by their U.S.-born children, it could not be taken from them. Their victory represents a milestone in the battle for the rights of Asian-Americans.

The house has been in a state of deterioration for decades now. Sections of the house seem to be subsiding, the walls have suffered termite damage and city officials worry about the property’s ability to withstand earthquakes. Plans to counteract these problems and restore the house so that it can be made available for public view have run into complications associated with budget cuts and mismanagement, according to city officials.

The price for repairing the property has not been established, though the city has hired a consultant to address the matter.

According to Riverside Metropolitan Museum board chairman Elio Palacios, Jr., the city is “starting the process of discussing how to form a nonprofit foundation” devoted to preserving and restoring the Harada house.

Despite the difficulties surrounding the property’s preservation, Palacios remains hopeful. “Although Riverside is not perfect, it usually ends up on the right side of history,” he wrote in an email. “Saving the Harada House and opening it to the public will represent the City of Riverside at its best.”

 

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