Enmanji Raises Funds for Renovation Project

The Enmanji Buddhist Temple will launch its renovation project in April for the historic building — which dates from the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933 — thanks to a successful six-month fundraising campaign.


Old lead paint will be stripped from the temple at a cost of $60,000, according to Enmanji President Diane Ono. She said the cost is steep because specialized professionals are needed to safely remove the lead.


Ono said the idea of repainting the temple exterior was raised in 2019 because board members were concerned about the peeling lead paint as well as repairs to some of the support areas under the roofline eaves.


Enmanji member and BCA President Kent Matsuda encouraged the temple to embark on fundraising in fall 2020, especially since the pandemic caused the temple to forego its usual chow mein lunch and teriyaki BBQ/bazaar fundraisers.


In addition, the lead paint could be removed while the temple was closed from in-person services because of the pandemic.


The temple board decided to focus on raising funds for the temple exterior and launched the campaign in October 2020. Donations were requested mainly through solicitation envelopes in the temple’s newsletter — and the Sangha and supporters responded by raising more than $38,000 of the $60,000 goal. The Enmanji BWA recently donated a generous amount, Ono said.


In addition, a GoFundMe drive was established, bringing in donations from outside the temple community. As of Feb. 19, the GoFundMe effort had raised nearly $1,500.


“We have a plan to be able to cover the balance of the now expected shortfall of our fundraising goal,” Ono said. “We feel fortunate to have received all of this Dana in the midst of the pandemic disruption.”

The capital campaign is for the temple exterior repainting and does not include roof repair, Ono said.


The Manchurian Railroad Company showcased the temple at the Century of Progress International Exposition, also known as the Chicago World’s Fair, in 1933, according to the Enmanji temple website. It was donated to the Buddhist Mission of North America and was shipped across the country in pieces to the Sonoma County Buddhist Temple.


The Enmanji Buddhist Temple was reassembled piece by piece in Sebastopol and the temple building was dedicated in an April 1934 ceremony.


The temple was hit by an arsonist during World War II, when a sizable segment of the local community was detained at the Amache internment camp in Granada, Colorado, according to a 2006 article in the Sonoma West Times & News. The temple chose to preserve some scorch marks on the ceiling as a reminder.


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