Silent Sunday – July 24, 2016

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The Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii. Opened in 1927 to honor those fallen in WWI, it has been shuttered since 1979 and is rapidly deteriorating. There is a group trying to save it from demolition.

12 comments

  1. The moment I saw the image it was “Hey! I know that place.”…The black and white photo is beautiful and so expressively elegant. It feels majestic and yet poignant, fitting given the place.

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    1. Thank you so much, Haunani! It is such a majestic structure! It was by chance we discovered it – we are avid walkers (and were determined not to rent a car and miss out on everything you can discover on foot and transit in Honolulu). I would have loved to photograph inside, but the signs make it clear it is now patently unsafe. I don’t know what the local sentiment is surrounding the Memorial, but as a visitor and lover of history, I would love to see it restored. But I know that such things are simple to say and often very hard to do…

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    1. Thank you, Tom! Things are going pretty well here – busy as ever! I hope you are doing well too and having a great summer. Let me know when you want to finish touring the sculpture collection here!

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    1. I was really surprised too – especially in the context of the strong and proud U.S. military history and veterans’ community in Hawaii. Pearl Harbor is less than a 30 minute drive away from this site (although administered by the U.S. Parks department and not the state), and you are in the shadow of Diamond Head (another former Army base). So many visitors come to Hawaii to tour the significant military sites, I would hope that the will could be summoned to save this one too. I agree with you – if this memorial is ultimately demolished and lost, it will say a lot about what we value as a society.

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    1. Thank you, Jan! The façade itself seems in okay condition, but the pool behind it is crumbling into the sea. I was only a visitor and not privy to the local politics or sentiment surrounding the site, but I agree and I hope that it is saved. Perhaps a compromise can be reached where the façade is saved and updated even if the pool proves beyond help.

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    1. Me too! We stayed at a hotel nearby the Memorial and walked past it every day to head to the beach. There was a plaque on the wall that briefly described why it was built, but it did not explain why it was boarded up and if there was any plan to renovate it. I finally looked it up on my phone and was shocked to learn that the city and state governments want to completely demolish it after neglecting it for 50 plus years. That would be a travesty on so many levels.

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      1. Sadly, yes. The Natatorium was listed as one of the country’s most endangered historic places back in 1995, and unfortunately, I think the situation is even worse today.

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