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The Arch Campbell Family Films, no. 1 - Chinese Sunken Garden (Japanese Tea Garden), 1947

Arch Campbell

Silent | 1947

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    This home movie from the Arch Campbell Collection captures baby Arch and his family on a visit the Japanese Tea Garden in San Antonio (at the time it would have been known as the Chinese Sunken Garden.) Much of the film focuses on the baby, but it also shows the buildings and grounds of the park, now designated a Texas Civil Engineering Landmark.
    The Japanese Tea Garden opened in San Antonio’s Brackenridge Park in 1918, converting an abandoned quarry into a complex of walkways, stone arch bridges, and a pagoda. In 1926, the city invited local Japanese-American artist Kimi Eizo Jingu and his family to move to the garden to maintain it and open the Bamboo Room, a cafe where light lunch and tea were served. After Jingu’s death in the late 1930s, his family continued to maintain the garden until 1942, when they were evicted as a result of anti-Japanese sentiment during World War II. A Chinese-American family then operated the facility until the 1960s, renaming it the Chinese Sunken Garden. In 1984, the park was rededicated as the Japanese Tea Garden in a ceremony attended by Jingu’s children and representatives of the Japanese government.