War Memorial Natatorium

1.5 stars from 2 reviews
Address 2815 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
Closed memorial dedicated to those who served WWI. Today, it's nothing more than a parking lot and bathroom.

• General: Cost: Free • General: Educational
• Cultural & Historical: Memorials / Statues

Matt Anderson's Take
The War Memorial Natatorium is a memorial to those who served in the "great war", which is World War I. It is the facade you see in our picture above with an open air salt water swimming pool behind that.

It opened in 1927 and because it wasn't maintained over time it eventually fell into disrepair and was shut down. The insides remain closed and off limits but you can visit the outside portion. Back in 1997 the plan was to renovate it so some sort of ridiculous environmental impact study was done that took a year and cost over $1 million.

In 1998 plans were approved (at nearly $12 million!) to renovate it and open it back up and it should have opened in 2005. Yes, that would mean taking seven years to make what is just a swimming pool. Wow, that's island time at its finest (see Hawaii Living: Island Time)!

In 2001 there were some tear-ups and a group formed to stop the renovation. Of course, not before a restoration plaque was made and mounted to the building in 2000. Yes, a plaque just to say it was being renovated was created and mounted! And we wonder how the renovation train got derailed!

In just 3 years almost half of the renovation money was spent, the project stopped, and it's sat there ever since. That's some very prime real estate and this thing just sits there falling apart? Probably not how those who served would want to be memorialized.

Right now it's nothing more than a parking lot and bathrooms for nearby Kaimana / Sans Souci Beach @ Waikiki. Should it be fixed? Should it be removed? Hard to say, but clearly either option is better than what it is right now. This also sort of brings up the issues with memorials in general, which is the fact that they cost a lot money to run and maintain over the years! It sounds good to memorialize an event or people but nobody ever thinks about the ongoing maintenance costs of those memorials.
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Matt Anderson
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Matt A
Joined: Feb 2013
Reviews: 803
Likes Received: 111
The War Memorial Natatorium is an amazing joke that the Hawaiian government should be embarrassed about. How many decades must this mess sit here like it is before it's fixed or removed.

While fixing it sounds good in theory, the amount of money and time involved in doing so makes that a pretty dumb idea. This is an island that can't even keep it's critical infrastructure updated and in proper working order. We have no business dropping millions on a memorial update. We also shouldn't let this thing sit and decay like it is, we already have the military to thank for countless sites that sit and decay...we don't need more.
Brian C
Joined: Feb 2016
Reviews: 9
Likes Received: 5
The War Memorial Natatorium is a landmark that I saw in the background of many shows growing up and is even featured on a few of the likes of Magnum PI. I was excited to see it when I finally had the opportunity, unfortunately it is closed and has fallen into disrepair, especially when you consider it was built in honor of our veterans. It was still fun to see in person and is fun to see on TV from time to time. If you like history I would say swing by for a look.
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