9 Most Endangered Historic Sites in Hawaii

This annual list, compiled by the Historic Hawaii Foundation, in cooperation with the State Historic Preservation Division, selects some of Hawaii’s most endangered historic places.


(page 5 of 6)

Coco Palms Resort

(Kapaa, Kauai)

Photo: Timothy Dela Vega

• What is it?

The Coco Palms is one of Hawaii’s most renowned classic resorts. Owner Grace Guslander pioneered romantic traditions that have become de rigueur in the local hospitality industry, such as the torch-lighting ceremony.

The site’s historical significance predates the resort, though. It was long a favorite center for Hawaiian monarchy; High Chief Deborah Kapule lived there in the mid-1800s, and cultivated fishponds in the area.

• What threatens it?

Hurricane Iniki hit the resort hard in 1992, and the Coco Palms has been shuttered ever since. Not for lack of interest in reopening it. As Kauai historian Pat Griffin says, “There is general agreement that it is an enormously important cultural and historical site, and should be protected.” But no one has yet been able to make the numbers work.

• What can be done?

There are a couple of ideas afloat, but both of them require money that hasn’t materialized yet.

The property’s current owner, Phillip Ross, of Coco Palms Ventures LLC, based in Annapolis, Md., says he’s working to reopen the Coco Palms in its original retro look, but needs a partner. “We’ve invested more than $6.5 million in securing our SMA [shoreline management area] and various other use permits, and preparation of construction documents in order to advance the project,” he says. “We’re seeking a joint-venture partner or a sale to a developer who can develop the property in keeping with our vision.”

Some local community groups, as well as state Sen. Gary Hooser, would rather see the property turned into a community based educational park facility. But this plan has no financial backing either.


on last year’s list

The Bond Estate
(Kohala,  Big Island)

Photo: Macario

In the past year, owner New Moon Foundation has completed archiving more than 5,000 artifacts taken from the damaged missionary house and complex, and built a database for cataloging them. Director of operations Robin Mullin says she’s now talking with contractors and architects about plans for the reconstruction of the Doctor’s Office and other buildings whose stone walls were heavily damaged in the 2006 earthquake.

Kalahikiola Congregational Church 
(Kohala, Big Island)

Photo: Macario

When we spoke with parishioner Boyd Bond and architect Glenn Mason in late September, the church had hired a contractor and construction was anticipated to begin in a few weeks. The exterior walls of the church are being rebuilt, but the original doors, windows, roof and floor will be preserved. Bond anticipates that the restoration should be complete by April 2010.


The Kekaha Sugar Mill
(Kekaha, Kauai)

Photo: Sue Boynton

According to Pahio Development Inc. president and CEO Lynn McCrory, Pahio Development Inc. is still in the process of deciding what to do with the mill. The mill is undergoing a Historic Architectural Building Survey (HABS) as well as remediation for asbestos and brownfield. McCrory says once the HABS is finished at the end of the year, the costs are determined and they’ve talked with the community, Pahio Development Inc. will know more about the direction it will take, but that this will be “years’ worth of work.”


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