Rohwer, located in Desha County, was the site of a Japanese American relocation center, Rohwer Relocation Center, during World War II. The center opened in September 1942 and housed up to 8,420 Japanese Americans before closing in 1945. Only a memorial cemetery and a monument to Japanese American soldiers who died fighting the Germans in France and Italy remain at the site, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
WER began a three phase restoration of the cemetery in 2014. Prior to this restoration project, the cemetery was in extremely poor condition due to deterioration caused by weathering, neglect, and vandalism. The historic monuments, the cemetery’s most prominent features, were structurally unstable and covered in biological growths that significantly altered their appearance. The site itself was also of major concern regarding the condition of the historic paving that had been broken and displaced. The lack of proper drainage created storm water ponding around the paved areas causing further deterioration and degradation of the concrete. The Rohwer cemetery is a rare resource associated with the history of the Japanese American confinement of the US during World War II. The Rohwer Relocation Camp Cemetery Preservation Projects goal is to ensure that this important piece of the nation’s historic fabric is preserved for future generations of Americans. The Rohwer Relocation Camp Cemetery Preservation project received a Historic Preservation Alliance Award.