FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BAINBRIDGE ISLAND JAPANESE AMERICAN EXCLUSION MEMORIAL LAUNCHES CAPITAL CAMPAIGN FOR THE VISITOR CENTER: HONOR HISTORY, EMBRACE UNITY
Bainbridge Island, WA – October 10, 2023– The Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial Association (BIJAEMA) proudly announces the launch of its campaign to raise $4.0 million for the construction of a new Visitor Center, located at the historic site of the Eagledale ferry dock on Bainbridge Island.
This endeavor marks the final phase in the more than two-decade-long journey of grassroots community support, dedicated to honoring the history of the Japanese Americans of Bainbridge Island. These resilient individuals were the first group forcibly removed from their homes and incarcerated in American concentration camps during World War II. The Memorial serves as a testament to their sacrifice and resilience. The Visitor Center will further education about this historical event and its lessons in human and Constitutional rights, so that the Memorial’s motto, Nidoto Nai Yoni, “Let It Not Happen Again”, can be made perpetually relevant to future generations
A Place of Healing and Learning
Envisioned as a place of both healing and education, the Memorial currently features an interpretive pavilion, a Memorial Wall honoring the 276 Bainbridge Island residents of Japanese heritage impacted by the Exclusion, and a Departure Deck reminiscent of the Eagledale Ferry Dock departure point. The new Visitor Center will feature a 1,545 square foot interpretive center with adjacent restrooms, an outdoor amphitheater, and a paved plaza enhancing accessibility for visitors.
The Visitor Center will house additional interpretive materials, providing a deeper educational experience for the more than 10,000 walk-in visitors and 50+ private educational tours the Memorial hosts annually. These visitors, who come from across the globe, will benefit from additional seating for educational tour groups, lectures, and office space for year-round staff. State-of-the-art audiovisual equipment will support access to digital resources, making history come alive for generations to come.
A Dream Realized
Reflecting on the journey, BIJAEMA board member Lilly Kitamoto Kodama, who was just seven years old when her family was forcibly uprooted, expressed her amazement: “When I first moved back to the island in retirement and heard about this project, I was very skeptical. What they were proposing cost millions of dollars that our small Japanese American community did not have. Today I look around and marvel at what has been achieved through the efforts of the community and support from grants and government agencies. Now, with the Visitor Center, it’s just amazing.”
Architectural Excellence and Anticipated Construction
The Visitor Center’s design, a creation of National Humanities Medal recipient, Johnpaul Jones from Jones and Jones Architects of Seattle, promises architectural excellence. Having previously designed the Memorial Wall and Departure Deck, Jones is set to transform the Visitor Center into a space that welcomes visitors and promotes discussion about a compelling story.
With over $2 million in funding secured from major donors, including the David and Carol Myers Foundation, the Walter B. and Marie W. Williams International Friendship Fund, and awards from the National Park Service Japanese American Confinement Sites grant, Washington State Local Community Development grant, JA Foundation, Bainbridge Community Foundation, and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation’s Valerie Sivinski Fund, the project has received overwhelming support.
Permitting from the City of Bainbridge Island is underway, and construction is anticipated to commence in early 2024, marking a significant milestone in the realization of this historical project.Ca
For more information, interviews, or to contribute to the campaign, please visit bijaema.org or contact:
Ellen Sato Faust, Executive Director, [email protected]
Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial Association (BIJAEMA)
About the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial
The Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial stands as a tribute to the courage and resilience of the Japanese American community forcibly removed from their homes under Executive Order 9066 and Exclusion Order No. 1 during World War II. Located at the historic Eagledale ferry dock on Bainbridge Island, the Memorial serves as a vital educational resource and a testament to the enduring spirit of unity and remembrance.
[End of Press Release]