• Final EIS for the WWMC - Notice of Availability

    November 12, 2019

    On the eve of Veteran’s Day 2019, the City and County of Honolulu published a Final Environmental Impact Statement which proposes to renew the Natatorium and restore public access to the site. The extensive record reflects a year’s worth of the City’s thorough consideration of public input, demonstrates in detailed responses to each comment received. Support letters were wide-ranging; from students from Waikiki Elementary School’s 5th grade to Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

    The National Trust is deeply grateful to all of our supporters who made comments favorable to preservation. And we are thrilled that the City has found that the preservation option (known as the “Perimeter Deck” alternative) remains the best – and most cost efficient way – to honor the legacy of Veterans and an internationally-recognized historic resource. We look forward to working hand in hand with the City as it refines its rehabilitation plan and reopens this long-imperiled site.

  • Voice your support for a preservation solution for the Natatorium

    December 3, 2018

    Good news! The City & County of Honolulu has released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that favors rehabilitating the Waikīkī War Memorial Natatorium, rather than tearing it down. This is an exciting milestone for all who love the Beaux-Arts memorial and want to restore it as an iconic swim venue.

    But we can’t rest yet.

    The city is accepting public input on the EIS through December 24. It is vital that they hear from advocates like you, to urge their continued support for the “perimeter deck” option. This plan is less expensive than demolition, is environmentally sustainable, and carries a broad base of local support while preserving the memorial’s original intent: honoring Hawaiʻi’s sacrifice in war and celebrating its proud swimming heritage.

    Please join Historic Hawaii Foundation and the National Trust for Historic Preservation in voicing your support for a preservation outcome for this long-neglected icon.

  • 30th Annual Memorial Day Observance at the Natatorium

    May 28, 2018

    On Sunday, May 27, 2018 the Friends of the Natatorium hosted their 30th annual Memorial Day event to honor residents of Hawai'i who have lost their lives in service to the nation. In this 100th year since the end of the first World War, the Hawaii World War One Centennial Task Force joined them as co-sponsors.

    The moving and often personal ceremony featured speakers including Vietnam veteran, Bronze Star awardee, and Gold Star Father Allen Kale‘iolani Hoe; young dancers from the Hula Halau Olana; music from the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, Band and local bagpipers; veterans motorcycle groups; a local Boy Scout troop; and more.

    A short video of the event is available via KITV news.

  • New Cost Estimates for Natatorium Are a Promising Development for Preservation

    December 12, 2017

    On December 11, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell held a press conference to update the public about the ongoing process of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Waikīkī Natatorium War Memorial. Remarkably, he announced that the cost of retaining the landmark would be roughly equal to the cost to demolish it and replace it with a beach.

    Demolition has been the city’s preferred option due to the high costs of a full restoration option, but citizen advocacy has been instrumental in convincing the city to study a less expensive preservation-friendly option. The mayor announced the EIS, due out in the summer of 2018, will include an alternative that rehabilitates the Natatorium stadium structure and decking, but re-engineers the swim basin to allow ocean water to flow freely.

    According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, both this alternative and full demolition would cost between $20 million and $30 million. One of the reasons for the high demolition cost would be the need for the city to rebuild lifeguard facilities that are currently housed in the Natatorium stadium structure.

    Identifying a preservation option that comes at a cost similar to that of re-creating the beach is a big step forward and will help counter the assumption that saving the Natatorium is too expensive.

    Read the full article here: Mayor weighs alternatives in Natatorium dilemma.

  • Congressional Legislation Brings Much Needed Attention to Waikiki Natatorium and World War I Memorials Across America

    November 9, 2017

    Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard speaking in front of the Waikiki Natatorium

    photo by: Courtesy of Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard

    Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) speaking at the Waikiki Natatorium in 2015.

    Today, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) introduced the Honoring World War I Memorials Act of 2017 in the U.S. House of Representatives to establish a grant program for rehabilitating memorials dedicated to the millions of Americans who served in World War I. The Department of Veterans Affairs would distribute the grants to assist in the restoration of World War I memorials owned or managed by nonprofit organizations and state and local governments.

    The National Trust endorses this legislation to give World War I memorials the protection they deserve and raise awareness of their important role in ensuring that the sacrifices of those who served in the war are honored and not forgotten.

    After the war, communities across our nation constructed unique “living” memorials with a utilitarian function, often connected to local culture and landscapes. They included auditoriums, gymnasiums, parks, bridges, and other cherished community resources. In Hawaii, as prime example, the Territorial Legislature constructed the only memorial in the country in the form of a saltwater swimming pool—the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium. Named a National Treasure in 2014, the Natatorium remains the most recognizable representation of the participation of Hawaii in World War I and testament to the islands’ swimming traditions.

    Today, the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium and many other war memorials are closed to the public, or suffer from disrepair. The deterioration of these significant places associated with our military history reflects poorly on our nation. As America reflects on the centennial of the war, join us in urging members of Congress to rise to the occasion and support the Honoring World War I Memorials Act of 2017.

    Read the National Trust’s official statement here.

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