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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The proposed wind farm would dramatically alter West Lanai.

photo: courtesy robin kaye

There are still five or six years left in the EIS process, including several periods during which the project will be open to public comment. “I believe public input can have an impact on public policy,” says Kaye. “Public education and political will can stop this.”

Queen Emma Building (Honolulu, Oahu)


Photo: rae huo

What is it?

Some historic buildings don’t appeal to our aesthetic sensibilities—yet. They may be old enough and interesting enough to merit historic protections, but their design seems outdated rather than charming. The infamous Queen Emma Building, with its pockmarked appearance, is a prime example.

Designed in the 1960s by Jo Paul Rognstad, it was originally named the York Building, after the York Barbell Co. Built for physician and weight-lifting guru Dr. Richard W. You, the eccentric, brutalist design touches are fitting for a building inspired by feats of brute strength.

What threatens it?

According to its current owner, Maui-based developer Greg Hatcher of GP Pacific Inc., the building has been vacant for more than five years. It has changed hands twice in that time: In 2006, it was slated to become university student housing, but went back on the market in 2008. Hatcher purchased the building in late 2010 and has plans to turn it into 106 condominiums for residents 60 years or older, re-branding it the “Queen Emma Regency.”

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

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,November

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