Historical Tofu House on road to preservation
By Pat Jenkins The Dispatch A piece of Eatonville's history has started a new chapter of its own. The two-room former farm building Known as the Tofu House was moved Nov. 18 across town to a location adjacent to Mill Pond Park. The relocation was coordinated by South Pierce County Historical Society, which has raised money to help preserve what is described as the last physical evidence of Eatonville’s long-ago Japanese-American community. Professional building movers lifted the structure onto a trailer for the drive down Center Street and Mashell Avenue to its new location near another historical structure, the Van Eaton cabin. "The move went quite smoothly, once they got out on the road," said Bob Walter, president of the Historical Society. Utility lines that are strung across Center were raised temporarily by utility crews to allow the Tofu House to pass beneath. The top of the structure was 16 feet above the ground while on the trailer. The move, which originally was to be made Oct. 26 before being rescheduled twice, started with the tricky task of dislodging the building from where it stood for the past 70 years, virtually abandoned in recent years. After being separated from its foundation, the building was hoisted onto a flatbed trailer and towed by a dump truck to its new home. Plans call for the building to eventually house interpretive exhibits that will relate the stories of Japanese-Americans who lived and worked in Eatonville until their relocation and internment during World War II. The Tofu House history dates to the early 1900s, when it was used for making milk as part of a dairy run by a Japanese family. After the dairy closed in the 1930s, the structure was converted into making tofu. Following the Japanese-Americans’ forced relocation in 1942, the farm buildings were torn down or moved – all except the milk house-turned-Tofu House. The Historical Society learned of the building’s existence and availability for preservation in 2005. A %6,500 grant awarded last summer by the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation was a key part of the fund-raising for relocating the building.