Thursday, August 8, 2013

 Most Endangered Historic Sites in Hawaii

This annual list, compiled by the Historic Hawaii Foundation, in cooperation with the State Historic Preservation Division, selects some of Hawaii’s most endangered historic places.



Ewa Field

(Ewa, Oahu)

• What is it?

Originally established in 1925 as a Navy field for airships—yes, dirigibles—this military site was used only sporadically until early 1941, when the Marine Corps converted it into an active airfield as World War II heated up around the world. When the Japanese fighter pilots buzzed in close on Dec. 7, they were able to destroy or badly damage almost 50 aircraft, and kill four Marines. The field itself was left relatively unscathed, and continued to play an important role in training and deploying Marines during the war. "There’s a cultural history here that’s hugely important," says historian John Bond. "Ewa Field is directly tied into the key battles of World War II, from Pearl Harbor to Wake Island to Midway." Ewa Field was officially decommissioned in 1952. Today, the airfield sits empty, overgrown with grass and kiawe trees.


• What threatens it?

As we went to press, the Navy, which had owned the property, transferred 499 acres of Kalaeloa land, including parcels containing the former Marine Corps Air Station, to private developer Ford Island Properties, a subsidiary of

Texas-based Hunt Companies. The transfer went through without the historic resource inventory analysis requested by the state Historic Preservation Division, a survey that would have cataloged the historically significant architectural, archaeological and cultural elements of the property. Ford Island Properties hasn’t made public its intentions for the land, but given its prime location near the Barbers Point Golf Course and the 67-acre shopping center being planned by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, it’s safe to say it will make an attractive site for development.

• What can be done?

It’s not too late for an inventory of Ewa Field’s historic elements. Ideally, Ford Island Properties and the HCDA will work together with the community on development plans for the area to include the preservation of Ewa Field. Says Bond, "I’m not against Hunt or anyone developing here, I just want to protect what historically we think is important here."