A. Kam Napier
KBC note: this is an excerpt from the February 2013 issue of Honolulu Magazine. We have bolded the words in the excerpt, as it highlights the fact that the design of the Natatorium was contentious from before it was even built.
In 1888, King Kalakaua issued a royal charter, commissioning a magazine. Then titled Paradise of the Pacific, this publication became HONOLULU Magazine, making it the oldest magazine west of the Mississippi.
We now know the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium as a sadly neglected monument to Hawaii’s losses in World War I, but, in 1920, it hadn’t even been built yet and wasn’t the only proposal for the site. Our predecessor, Paradise of the Pacific, argued against the natatorium, declaring its swimming pool to be undignified and unserious, inevitably to be used by a “yelling mob.” It preferred this more static, unofficial alternative put forward independently by sculptor Avaro Fairbanks. Argued Paradise, “It would surely be more fitting that the memories of our sacred dead should be commemorated in a manner that shall, for all time, show forth to the world the deep reverence and love in which we hold them.”