Hawaii’s Most Endangered Historic Places

The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently announced its 2011 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. For the past 24 years, the Historic Preservation’s list has brought attention to the historic places in America that reflect the country’s important architectural, cultural and natural heritage. Over the last 16 years, four sites in Hawaii have made the list.

Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium

In 1995, the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium was Hawaii’s first site listed as one of the 11 endangered places. This “living memorial” to Hawaii’s World War I veterans is a 100-meter saltwater pool that was built in 1927. After years of neglect by the City and County of Honolulu, the Natatorium was closed in 1979. Currently, the Natatorium is embroiled in a battle between restoration and demolition. While recently elected Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle advanced a recommendation to tear down the Natatorium, the non-profit Friends of the Natatorium continues its 25 year fight to restore the Memorial. The Wa’ahila Ridge in Honolulu was listed in 1997. The ridge, which contains the neighborhood of St. Louis Heights (and overlooks the neighborhoods of Manoa and Palolo), was threatened by a massive power transmission line project by the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO). The project would have destroyed the pristine landscape by installing huge towers and voltage lines along the ridgeline. The community banded together and along with elected officials rejected HECO’s plan. Ford Island at Pearl Harbor made the list of 11 endangered places in 2001 due to the Navy’s plan to construct a major housing complex. Ford Island, located in the Pearl Harbor National Historic Landmark District, is a popular tourist destination near Honolulu where visitors can explore the USS Missouri and the Pacific Aviation Museum. The Navy eventually worked with the National Trust and the Historic Hawaii Foundation to preserve certain sites on the island. The last site to make the endangered places list in Hawaii was Lanai City in 2009. This plantation town on the island of Lanai is currently under threat of development from Castle & Cooke. Castle & Cooke, which owns the majority of the island of Lanai, wants to demolish part of the historic downtown of Lanai City in order to build a grocery store with a parking lot that would consume an entire city block. Today, Lanai City still looks much the same as it did back in the 1920’s when it served as the island center for the Dole Plantation. Whether Lanai City will continue to exude its plantation charm is currently still in the air. For more information please visit www.preservationnation.org

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