Hawai‘i’s Most Endangered Historic Sites
The Historic Hawaii Foundation, the State Historic Preservation Division and Honolulu Magazine compile an annual list of some of our state's most endangered places.
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Queen Lydia Liliuokalani Elementary School (Kaimuki, Oahu)
What is it?
Liliuokalani Elementary in Kaimuki opened in 1912 and was personally dedicated by its namesake, Queen Lydia Liliuokalani. While the original administration building was torn down years ago, its cornerstone still exists, and is now located in the corner by the basketball court. The current administration and classroom buildings were all built within the last 50 years, says principal Dr. Raelene Chock. The school has about 130 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
What threatens it?
In August, the Department of Education (DOE) released its consolidation study for the Kalani complex, which includes the Liliuokalani, Kahala, Liholiho, Waialae, Waikiki, and Wilson schools. The study examined the benefits and drawbacks of shuttering Liliuokalani, noting that the savings from the school’s closure would be about $370,000, and that, with the exception of Wilson Elementary, all of the schools in the complex were under capacity (Liliuokalani was 115 students below capacity).
As we went to print, the Board of Education (BOE) was reviewing the DOE’s report, and a public hearing was tentatively planned for the end of October. Should the BOE vote in favor of consolidation, Liliuokalani’s students would likely be divided up between Liholiho and Waialae schools. “In every community the neighborhood school is a special place for its people,” says Chock, “and the prospect of consolidating Liliuokalani Elementary School is emotional and even painful for many whose lives have been touched by the school.”
According to the BOE, the City and County of Honolulu owns the property and, should the school be consolidated, would determine the buildings’ fate. “Once we decide to close the school, we have no control over the property or what the future of the property would be,” says Alex de Silva, the BOE’s public affairs officer.
What can be done?
The DOE draft report mentions alternative uses of the buildings, including conversion to a facility for early childhood education programs or a charter school, should the school be consolidated, both of which are on the right track, says Faulkner. “I would recommend that [the BOE] works with the local community to identify other community needs that don’t have their own facilities and look at an adaptive reuse idea,” she says. “ I can’t anticipate what the needs are, but Kapiolani Community College is looking at expanding its facilities in its new master plan, and there may be charter schools, halau, nonprofi t or for-profit needs in the community. Any of those could be an appropriate new tenant to keep the campus alive and vibrant.”
Faulkner points to two examples of adaptive reuse of school buildings in the state, including the Waimea Arts Center, which was Waimea’s fi rst public school structure, and Hanalei Center, a shopping center with boutiques and restaurants that occupies a group of historic buildings, including the Old Hanalei School. If you’re interested in voicing your opinion regarding the school’s potential consolidation, you can do so by submitting written testimony via the BOE’s website, hawaiiboe.net, or by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alekoko Pond (Nawiliwili, Kauai)
The 580-year-old Alekoko Pond continues to be threatened by invasive mangrove trees and sedimentation. The owners of the property, Honolulu’s Okada family, have not responded to inquiries made by interested local conservation groups, such as the Kauai Public Land Trust (KPLT). “We’ve spent the last year focused on two other projects, and although we did make several efforts to contact the landowners, we weren’t successful,” says Jennifer Luck, KPLT’s executive director.
“We do still feel that it is one of the state’s most endangered places and continue to receive a lot of comments from the public suggesting this site as one they’d like to see conserved.”
“We do still want to pursue the restoration of [Alekoko],” says Donald Heacock, the co-founder of the Nāwiliwili Bay Watershed Council. “The pond is still silting in and the mangrove is growing, and all those things will not change unless it has active management.”
The Historic Structures in the path of Honolulu’s Rapid Transit Project (Kapolei to Kakaako, Oahu)
As we went to press, groundbreaking for the Honolulu Rapid Transit Project was on hold. Gov. Linda Lingle had refused to sign the Final Environmental Impact Statement until an updated financial plan was completed. In September, the Department of Transportation awarded a contract to Infrastructure Management Group to perform an economic analysis and financial assessment of the proposed $5.5 billion rail transit system.
In June, the 422-page “Historic Effects Report” was released. The document details the effects of the rail project on 81 National Register of Historic Places-listed and eligible properties. Of those 81 sites, the rail was found to have no effect on eight properties; no adverse effect on 51 properties; and an adverse effect on 22 properties, meaning that the construction of the rail line would “alter, directly or indirectly, any of the characteristics of a historic property … in a manner that would diminish the integrity of the property’s location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association.”
Among that group, the most negatively impacted include the Teixeira House, a plantation-style residence built in 1945 that would need to be removed from the property; the basalt lava rock curbs on Dillingham Boulevard between Laumaka and Kaaahi Streets, which are thought to have been laid between the late 19th- and mid-20th centuries, and would require removal; and the true kamani trees on the makai edge of Dillingham, which were planted in 1934 and would also need to be removed. The city noted that it intends to replant the trees as near as possible to their original location. Otherwise, the State Historic Preservation Division and other groups were working “to develop appropriate mitigation measures” to the adversely effected properties, which will be documented in a Memorandum of Agreement that, as of press time, had not yet been made available.
The Haliimaile Stables (Haliimaile, Maui)
As we went to press, the stables were still standing. However, a source familiar with the situation informed us that the stables had been approved for demolition. Maui Land and Pineapple, which owns the stables, had no comment.
The Luahiwa Petroglyphs (Kealiakapu ahupuaa, Lanai)
While the Lanai Culture and Heritage Center has had luck in securing grant monies for the stabilization of Ka Lanakila Church, the old Maunalei Sugar Co. Mill and the last pineapple-harvesting machine on Lanai, the group has thus far been unsuccessful in raising money to preserve the petroglyphs. “I am sad to say that nothing has progressed with Luahiwa,” says executive director Kepa Maly.