On January 21, 2012, over 50 people gathered at San Francisco's Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC) to hear a lecture by Charles Egan, professor of Chinese at SF State University, on recent discoveries of poems of Angel Island immigrants. Professor Egan was able to decipher Chinese poems, which were obscured on the detention barrack walls. Japanese and Korean poems written about Angel Island and on the immigrant experience were found by reviewing microfilm of vernacular press of the 1910s to 1940s.
Recent visitors to the Immigration Station have heard the staccato of hammers hitting nails as workmen place new wood shingles on the roof of the historic hospital. By the end of November, the entire roof will have new shingles. When the rainy season hits in full force, water will run down off the roof onto new gutters, thus removing the danger of water damage to the building. A new coat of exterior paint will also help protect the hospital from the elements.
Work crews also removed rotted wood from inside the hospital and installed new wood shoring from the ground floor up to the roof. This will help hold up the walls as we wait for the permanent rehabilitation of the interior in the next phase of the project. The stabilization work began after all the asbestos and toxic lead paint was removed.
As this work proceeds, the Museums and Interpretation section of the California State Parks is being funded by AIISF to develop an interpretation plan for the hospital. Several rooms such as the Asian men’s ward and surgery room have been designated for historical restoration. These rooms will have exhibits and signage that will tell visitors about the treatment of immigrants at the hospital. Other rooms have been designated for rehabilitation and repurposed as lecture and performance spaces.
It’s an exciting time as we envision how a refurbished hospital can enrich the visitors’ experience at the Immigration Station.
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