Report to the President:
Japanese-American Internment Sites Preservation
Background: The Jerome Relocation Center was constructed in 1942 on approximately 500 acres in Drew and Chicot counties in southeastern Arkansas. The site is located about 120 miles southeast of Little Rock and about 27 miles south of the Rohwer Relocation Center. The relocation center was in operation from October 6, 1942 until June 1944. The center was the last internment camp to open and the first to close. The maximum population was 8,497. Evacuees were from California and Hawaii. There were more than 610 buildings at the relocation center included buildings for evacuees, military police, staff, fire station, health care, and mess halls. Although space was reserved for schools, a church, and a store, these structures were never built. After the relocation center was closed, it was converted into a prisoner of war camp for Germans.
Current Status/Interpretation: Currently, the original Relocation Center is privately held farm land. Very few features remain. The most prominent structures in the central area are a hospital boiler house smokestack and a water reservoir. The smokestack is in poor condition. In addition, there remain several concrete slabs for buildings that now serve as foundations for farm buildings. The only significant feature remaining in the outlying area is the relocation center's sewage treatment plant. The site is commemorated by a 10-foot tall granite boulder monument.
Regional Context: The Mississippi Delta region of Arkansas where the Relocation Center was located is primarily agricultural and extremely rural. Today, the three county area where the two Arkansas relocation centers were located have a combined population of approximately 50,000. The region across the Mississippi River in Mississippi is similarly rural. The nearest Federal presence is the Arkansas Post National Memorial, approximately 60 miles north of Jerome, and the White River National Wildlife Refuge, approximately 60 miles northeast of Jerome.
Interested Parties/Stakeholders and Opinions:
Local efforts to preserve both the Jerome and Rohwer relocation center sites in Arkansas have been led by Rosalie Gould, a former mayor of the nearby town of McGehee. Ms. Gould has an extensive collection of artifacts from the sites and allows previous internees and scholars access to the collection which she stores in her home.
Arkansas State Historic Preservation Officer
The DOI will work with the State Historic Preservation Officer and private landowners to determine suitability for listing the site on National Register, and work with Federal, state, and local organizations to develop off-site interpretation.