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Hawaii's Most Endangered Historic Places 2012


(page 5 of 5)


The Hawaii Medical Library (saved)

This Vladimir Ossipoff-designed building made the 2007 list, but, rather than being torn down, it has been reborn. The Queen’s Health Systems renovated the 1961 structure to turn it into office space, moving the library materials elsewhere. The project started in November 2010, says Makana McClellan, in QHS corporate communications, and was primarily an interior renovation, with efforts to maintain the exterior’s appearance. The building reopened in October 2011, says McClellan. “I’m sitting in it right now!”

photo: rae huo

photo: kicka witte

The Kapaia Swinging Bridge (continued threat)

In last year’s “Most Endangered Places,” we covered the Kapaia Swinging Bridge, a wooden suspension bridge constructed in 1948. A vestige of the plantation culture in the Islands, in 2006, it was deemed unsafe and closed by the county. Things had been looking up: The county was planning to restore the bridges’ two towers, and a community group, Save Kapaia Swinging Bridge, was raising the funds for the rest of the renovation. Looming, however, was trouble: a large java plum tree, which had fallen 15 feet downstream from the bridge.

According to Laraine Moriguchi, of Save Kapaia Swinging Bridge, on March 9, Kauai was deluged with heavy rains, flooding Hanamaulu Stream. The fallen tree acted as a dam, backing up piles of logs and brush from upstream. When the debris and force of the water became too strong, the tree gave way, releasing everything that was backed up, flooding the valley and crashing through the Kapaia Suspension Bridge.

Since then, she says, “many people seem to think that it’s beyond repair. Nothing is further from the truth. Visually, the bridge looks very bad and so sad because all the wooden elements in the center section are gone. However, structurally, nothing has changed. The concrete foundation and steel cables are as sound as ever. All the wood that was damaged needed to be replaced anyway. Therefore, the prognosis remains the same as always: The Kapaia Swinging Bridge is restorable. Our efforts continue.” 

The Honolulu Advertiser Building (continued threat)

Several generations’ worth of ink-stained wretches could have worked at 605 Kapiolani Blvd., a circa-1930 Beaux Arts beauty we featured in 2009. Home to The Honolulu Advertiser newspaper, as well as The Honolulu Star-Bulletin during their joint-operating-agreement years, the building and 3.7-acre property around it has had an unclear future for some time. It was put up for sale by Gannett Pacific Corp. in 2005, but an agreement for its purchase wasn’t made until 2010. That fell through, and the plot twists continued when Hawaii Five-O came in to lease it for its soundstage and production purposes. In August, it was announced that a local housing developer, Marshall Hung, and investment group, Tradewind Capital Group Inc., intend to purchase the property, with a plan for 1,000 housing units.

photos: rae huo, diana kim

The Princess Victoria Kamamalu Building (a work in progress)

When we wrote about this downtown Honolulu building in our November 2010 issue, renovation of the state-owned, mid-century building had stalled. It’s moving forward again, one of the five projects identified in a May 2012 directive issued by Gov. Neil Abercrombie involving Project Labor Agreements [this regards unions] for state construction projects. It gave the project estimate at $32.9 million; the plan includes major renovation of the existing building, asbestos removal and infrastructure work, including electrical and plumbing repairs. 

The Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial (don’t get us started)

The Natatorium has been closed for 40 years but, instead of boring you with the back and forth on this site—managed by the City and County of Honolulu but owned by the state—simply put on the Clash’s song, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” But wait, Gov. Neil Abercrombie has a plan, hoping to create a beach volleyball facility. Communications director Jim Boersema confirmed that the governor’s office is working on a solution, but declined to give details. Details would be welcome, as emails published online at Honolulu Civil Beat show that city and state officials had purposefully left the public unaware of what’s happening with the Natatorium. “What city officials apparently didn’t want reporters or the public to know is that hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayers’ money has likely been wasted on studies that are no longer needed,” reported Sophie Cocke in late September.

We checked in with nonprofit group Friends of the Natatorium. “We welcome Gov. Abercrombie’s initiative to reclaim the Natatorium,” says group president representative Peter Apo. “The issue of pool restoration or alternative use is yet to be addressed but we are relieved to be moving away from previous Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s public policy to demolish this national treasure.”

Kathryn Drury Wagner is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. She worked at HONOLULU Magazine for eight years and remains passionate about Hawaii’s history.


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