The Lana’i Times Community Email
Joana Varawa, Editor of the Lana’i Times Community Email
A Special Notice:
Lana’i City has just been listed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of America’s most endangered historic places.
The National Trust yesterday named Lana’i City as one of eleven of America’s most endangered historic places for Historic Preservation. Their newly released 2009 roster includes important examples of our national, cultural, and natural heritage at risk of being destroyed or damaged.
Richard Moe, president of the National Trust, in releasing the list, stated, “It’s a mistake to allow structures to fall into disrepair or to be demolished” and the list “focuses20not only local attention, but national, and helps to mobilize both human and financial resources.”
Among other endangered sites are, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois, the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, an intact 19th century industrial village in Eason Mass. the cast-iron architecture of Galveston Tex., and the 1868 Dorchester Academy in Midway, Ga. In the last 22 years the trust has selected 211 sites worth saving, and has lost only six of them.
The following text is posted on the National Trust’s website along with photographs of historic buildings in Lana’i City, including Gifts With Aloha, Pele’s Other Garden, and The Lana’i Art & Culture Center. The website also includes space for you to say why our town has special meaning and memories for you.
“One of Hawaii’s eight main islands, Lana’i, known as the “Pineapple Island”, has lush tropical beaches, breathtaking natural beauty, lavish resorts, and one attraction none of the other islands can claim, an intact plantation town. Nestled between Molokai and Maui, Lana’i is the smallest of the main Hawaiian islands with 2,500 year-round residents living in and near Lana’i City, the center of the island. The island rose to prominence with the arrival of James Drummond Dole, whose pineapple empire once stretched over 20,000 acres and employed thousands of workers.
In the 1920’s, Dole, who owned the entire island, created a thriving company town, complete with hundreds of plantation-style houses, jail, courthouse and police station, all centered around a tree-lined park named in his honor. The least visited of the main Hawaiian islands, Lana’i has remained secluded, and the company town of Lana’i City looks very much as it did in its 1920’s heyday. There are no traffic lights, no malls, no public transportation, and less than 30 miles of paved road on the island.
Today, Lana’i is almost entirely owned by Castle & Cooke, one of the largest private landowners in Hawai’i. The company, which also owns Dole Foods and two high-end Four Seasons resorts on Lana’i, recently submitted a three-part plan calling for the demolition or alteration of 15 – 20 historic buildings in Lana’i City to make way for large-scale commercial development.
Currently, the two-block area that makes up Lana’i City’s historic downtown is largely intact, but that may soon change as Castle & Cooke has already submitted demolition applications to Maui County’s Department of Planning. Permit applications have been filed for the demolition of three residential structures, the police lieutenant’s house, the Lana’i City jail, the Laundromat, and other historic commercial structures.
The new development proposal includes an oversized, out-of-scale grocery store, dramatically incompatible with the historic downtown. The grocery store’s parking lot alone would consume an entire city block. Local preservationists hope to convince Castle & Cooke that a preserved Lana’i is a draw for heritage tourists and is, therefore, an economically viable solution.”