Photography: Courtesy of David Croxford
Article Written By: Loren Moreno, HONOLULU Magazine
What is it?
A landmark along Kahekili Highway, the family services building at Valley of the Temples is one of the few remaining structures designed by resort architect George Pete Wimberly. The building was designed to mimic a Native Hawaiian heiau, using the tools of modern architecture, including its expressive skyward arch. The building serves as the headquarters for Valley of the Temples’ administrative staff. Wimberly’s work has not survived well in the face of urban development, particularly because his work was so “exuberant and odd,” says Mike Gushard, president of the Hawai‘i chapter of DoCoMoMo (Documentation and Conservation of the Modern Movement). But that’s what makes it work worth saving, hesays. “It’s a building that could only exist in Hawai‘i.”
What threatens it?
Valley of the Temples, now owned by NorthStar Memorial Group, is considering demolishing the building to replace it with a mortuary and crematorium, according to information provided to both the Historic Hawai‘i Foundation and the state Historic Preservation Division. Mark Gilmore, the cemetery’s area operations director, was unwilling to confirm or deny the plans. Faulkner says concepts include building a 30,000-square-foot funeral home on the current site of the administration building.
What can be done?
Because the building is more than 50 years old, the state requires that a historic review be done prior to any demolition or redevelopment. “In that review process, there is a place for the community to say, ‘Give this a second thought,’” Gushard says. At the end of the day, though, owners of private property are allowed to make the final decision.