Riverside Metropolitan Museum

Riverside Metropolitan Museum

Sumi Harada Returns to Her Family Home

Due to Jess Stebler’s care of the Lemon Street home during their years of internment, Sumi was able to return to Riverside in 1945 and open her house to several displaced families. She remained in the family home serving as guardian and protector of the house, family collections and the memory of her pioneering parents until a serious illness in 1998.

Prior to her death Sumi witnessed the local and national recognition of her family’s history through the Harada House’s nomination as a City Landmark in 1977 and a National Historic Landmark in 1990.

Upon her death, her brother Harold inherited the home. He and other family members, friends and associates participated in the National Historic Landmark plaque dedication ceremony in 2001. He continued conversations initiated by his sister Sumi to donate the site to the Museum. His heirs, following his death, fulfilled his wishes by transferring the site to the City of Riverside under the stewardship of the Riverside Metropolitan Museum in August 2004.

This nationally significant story of the Harada family has been the subject of academic research and school curriculum materials. Mark Rawitsch, a University of California, Riverside graduate student in the 1970s completed extensive research of the Harada family archives and conducted oral history interviews with surviving family members. This research resulted in the 1983 publication No Other Place: Japanese American Pioneers in a Southern California Neighborhood. The inclusion of the Harada story in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s nationally-distributed 2002 publication, A Place at the Table: Struggles for Equality in America, and the Riverside Unified School District’s Riverside’s History From Its First People to the Present, 3rd Grade Student Edition, attest to the national significance of the Harada House site, archives, collections, and story.

The National Historic Landmark Harada House site and its contents remained relatively undisturbed until the family’s donation to the Riverside Metropolitan Museum. The Harada House is the story of California and its people, of immigrants and their descendents who overcame economic impediments and racial prejudices, lost civil rights and liberties to realize the American Dream.

Click the thumbnail images below for a detailed version
Sumi Harada ca. 1946
Harold Harada at the dedication of the Harada House
(Riverside Metropolitan Museum Harada Family Archival Collection)
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