from New York
Preserving The Panama Hotel Legacy
A Safe Place
The Panama Hotel was a 'safe place' where Japanese American citizens stored their belongings when President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 displacing entire families. Current owner Jan Johnson continued to preserve these artifacts and memories for the history of the era from the moment she acquired the Hotel in 1985.
A Time Capsule
Visiting the Panama Hotel opens a time capsule. So many stories were left unfinished after the internment...most possessions in the basement were never re-claimed. This film shares the story of the current owner who continued to preserve the history of the Hotel and Japantown, and her courage, vision and passion to embark on this journey.
For Future Generations
Current and future generations, now more than ever, are seeking the stories and histories of their families. Author Jamie Ford found worldwide audiences for his book "Hotel On The Corner of Bitter And Sweet", now printed in more than 34 languages. Thousands of people visit The Panama Hotel each year and discover the incredible relationship it has to history and community.
Thoughts About The Panama Hotel
"The Panama is a place you could reference directly - it wasn't in a history book, it wasn't in a photograph in a museum - it was a real place where people stored their precious belongings and they're still here."
"The Panama Hotel is an amazingly unique property. It embodies a really important chapter of American history, and one that hasn't been told before. As part of the National Treasures program, we're seeking to ensure that there is a full diversity of the American experience."
"Its like picking up a diary a hundred years ago and not having a page missing, not having the ink faded. You can read it and almost hear the voices coming out of the writing in the diary. That kind of integrity in a historic building is just such a rarity...it really is an unusual thing."
"Thank you Jan Johnson, for creating the Panama Hotel and Tea House, preserving memories from a sad time, sharing visions from generations past and reminding us that we Americans must stand up for one another. Congratulations!"
"Jan is so focused on making sure the Panama Hotel is not just a representation of the history of Japanese Americans in this country, but is an accurate representation. She is so committed to maintaining the basic integrity of this building itself."