Restored: Hori Furoba at the Neely Mansion

Hori bath house temporarily moved to prepare for a new foundation © 2015, photo by Linda Van Nest, courtesy of Neely Mansion Association
Hori bath house temporarily moved to prepare for a new foundation © 2015, photo by Linda Van Nest, courtesy of Neely Mansion Association

After years of planning and investment, the Neely Mansion Association recently unveiled the restored Hori Furoba, one of the few known examples of an extant Japanese-style bath house built by Japanese Americans in this country. With partial funding from 4Culture, the Association was able to develop and implement a preservation plan for the bath house, and also celebrate its restoration with a public dedication and festival. About this tremendous effort, the Association writes:

HoriWe are proud to announce that restoration of the historic 1930’s Hori Furoba at Neely Mansion has been completed and is now open for public viewing! A designated King County Landmark, this rare Japanese American bath house is a physical reminder of the immigrant families who farmed the surrounding area during the 1920s and 30s, and their lasting impact within the local community. The restoration efforts included planning, design, restoration of original wood elements, a new roof and foundation, and even an archeological dig. Nearly $70,000 in funds paid for the project, including grants from King County and 4Culture.

On Saturday, June 25 the public dedication and celebration for the Hori Furoba restoration was held on the grounds of Neely Mansion. At noon the dedication ceremony began with a description of the families who lived and worked in the mansion, including the Japanese-American Fukuda and Hori families. The history and process of the extensive restoration efforts for the Furoba were shared, followed by comments from Hori family members. The Reverend Ogui of the White River Buddhist Temple then blessed the newly restored building.

Seattle Matsui Taiko drummers performed vigorously and loudly on the front lawn, as visitors watched in appreciation. The Japanese Minyo Dancers were next with intricate dances and wearing colorful costumes. Both groups performed throughout the afternoon and encouraged the public to participate in the activities. Tours of the Hori Furoba took place all afternoon, featuring the replicated soaking tub and inside laundry area. In the Neely Mansion, Ikebana arrangements were placed in several of the main rooms and refreshments were available for all.

We would like to thank all of the members of the public that helped us celebrate this auspicious occasion, and special thanks to the Hori Bath House Restoration Committee, BOLA Architecture, SWCA, Big Fish Construction, King County, and 4Culture!