Hawaii's Most Endangered Historic Places

Each year, we look for our state’s most endangered historic places through a partnership with the Historic Hawaii Foundation and the State Historic Preservation Division. The list is a call to action, but it’s also a way to appreciate the hidden treasures of our built environment. This year we see Kapahulu Avenue with new eyes, imagine the way plantation workers gathered in the 1900s and consider—if only for a moment—if an ugly building is worth saving.

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photo: courtesy linda legrande

Manoa's Historic Residences (Honolulu, Oahu)

What is it?

In Manoa, a large, foursquare, Craftsman-style home from the 1920s stands with six others of the same period. Collectively, they’ve greeted visitors and residents alike into Manoa Valley for nearly a century. With the island’s largest concentration of historic residences, privately owned, historic homes like these are the backbone of the neighborhood’s culture and character.

What threatens it?

Historic neighborhoods are threatened slowly, one by one, by individual demolitions. The craftsman-style house in Manoa is just one example. Although it’s 90 years old and in good repair, its new owners have filed a demolition permit and can’t be prevented from taking it down to make way for the new, modern home of their dreams.

“They’re tearing down beautiful old homes and building McMansions that are oversize and don’t fit,” says Linda LeGrande, longtime Manoa resident and community activist. “I don’t see the point in tearing down an old house when it has life left in it. It’s really hard to live with that.”

This highlights a particularly complicated threat: Individual homeowners, bit by bit, have the power to permanently alter a historic neighborhood. “Honolulu has chosen to provide incentives for preservation but has no regulatory prohibitions. They control what you can build, but they don’t control demolition,” says Kiersten Faulkner, executive director of the Historic Hawaii Foundation.

Related links:
Updates: A Look Back at Past Endangered Places

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,November

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