A new chapter for Tofu Milkhouse

By Pat Jenkins The Dispatch It's been used by a dairy and for making tofu in a long, storied life dating back about 100 years. And now, the aptly named Tofu Milkhouse is getting a new home. The South Pierce County Historical Society has received permission from town officials to relocate the structure to property it leases at Mill Pond Park in Eatonville. After the building is restored, it will be open to the public on weekends, expanding the site's prominence in preserving local history. The Van Eaton cabin, an icon from the community's early settlement, is also there. The Town Council in late November unanimously approved the Historical Society's plans for the Tofu Milkhouse. They include a boardwalk for visitors. The building's move from private land in the west part of town and restoration will be funded by a $500 grant from the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation and fund-raising by the Historical Society. The latter has been spearheaded in part by one of the group's leaders, Bob Walter, who also is a Town Council member. The small, quaint building that's getting all this attention was part of a Japanese-owned dairy in the early 1900s, when Eatonville included a Japanese-American settlement behind the now-defunct Eatonville Lumber Company mill. The dairy sold milk and butter at the company store. After the dairy closed in the 1930s, the milkhouse was converted for making tofu GÇô completing the name its known by now GÇô and later was moved to its current site. All the Japanese settlement's houses eventually disappeared from Eatonville, along with the people who lived in them. They and other Japanese-Americans in the region were relocated by the United States to an internment camp at the fairgrounds in Puyallup five months after Japan's surprise attack on the U.S. military base at Pearl Harbor in 1941. They were later relocated again by train to a larger internment site in Idaho. One of them, Bill Akiyoshi, was living in California when he was invited by the Eatonville Centennial Committee in 2009 to return to the town and ride in the centennial parade. Accounts of the day described it as emotional for Akiyoshi, who died in 2013. The Historical Society believes the Tofu Milkhouse can help preserve the stories that make up the Japanese-American part of Eatonville's history, Walter said.


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