Wednesday, May 21, 2014

the Natatorium

[5/21/14] A nearly three-decade battle to preserve the neglected Wai­kiki War Memorial Natatorium is getting added ammunition from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which is adding the landmark to its list of "national treasures" — a move that harnesses the support of thousands of preservationists from coast to coast.

Built in 1927, the Natatorium's memorial arches, 100-meter saltwater pool and stadium bleachers were meant to honor Hawaii's 10,000 World War I veterans. It has been recognized as an architectural landmark on the National Register of Historic Places and for a few generations was the place where Hawaii residents learned to swim and great watermen like Olympic medalist Duke Kaha­na­moku and his contemporaries trained. However, those glory days ended in 1979 when the Natatorium was closed due to disrepair.

The trust's new campaign aims to pre­sent alternatives to an $18.4 million plan announced in May 2013 by Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Mayor Kirk Caldwell to demolish the pool and bleachers and develop a public memorial beach at the site, said David J. Brown, the National Trust's executive vice president, who plans to announce the designation in Hono­lulu on Wednesday.

"The Natatorium is an important war memorial from a period that Hawaii has lost a lot of its history. … It really has the opportunity to be the place that continues to honor the service of WWI veterans," he said. "We think a restored Natatorium could once again become a place of recreation, recuperation and reflection."
Caldwell and Abercrombie have said their plan would be better for the community than spending the estimated $69.4 million it would take to fully restore the memorial.

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