There was an important story in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend about a major challenge faced by historic preservationists nationwide.
Among those facing that challenge are those of us working so hard to restore and reopen the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium.
And, in fact, the Natatorium gets a prominent mention in the Journal story.
The focus of the piece is the recent scarcity of government financial support for historic preservation. Says the Journal:
Save America’s Treasures, a federal grant program that provided more than $300 million to help preserve some 600 historic structures around the country since its creation in 1998, has gone unfunded since 2010 as part of a budget-cutting move proposed by the Obama administration. Congress is now weighing a tax-reform proposal released last week that does away with tax credits for the restoration of historic buildings, a tool preservationists said has helped fuel many projects. Finding funds at state level is also challenging, as officials in many places seek to tighten state budgets.
The story mentions several case studies, including a Buffalo Soldier fort in New Mexico, the Baltimore home of a signer of the Declaration of Independence… and our own Natatorium.
In Hawaii, officials plan to demolish the Waikiki Natatorium, a saltwater pool off the Honolulu shore built as a memorial for World War I veterans in 1927. The city wants to turn the Beaux-Arts monument, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, into a beach.[The story also refers to the city and county’s grossly inflated cost estimate for restoring the Natatorium. We’ll have more to say soon about why that cost estimate is just not accurate.]
So, situation’s hopeless, right? Far from it. We’re still working hard to put together a public-private coalition to save the Natatorium. And we’re supporting efforts to save or restore government financial support for historic preservation nationwide.
What you can do
You can help. And you can start by supporting the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s fight to save the federal historic tax credit. Read more here, and then take action here.
When you’ve done that, look here for more information on how you can help to save the Natatorium. Let’s fix it and swim there again!