Written by Jane Kurahara

The Honouliuli Camp, ca. 1944, as photographed by R.H. "Harry" Lodge, an employee of O'ahu Sugar at the time.

The Honouliuli Camp, ca. 1944, as photographed by R.H. "Harry" Lodge, an employee of O'ahu Sugar at the time.

Over ten years ago, while fielding what we thought was a routine request for information made to the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii’s resource center, our eyes were opened to the need to preserve a thinly documented period of Hawaii’s World War II history. A local TV station requested the exact location of the Honouliuli internment camp site. To our dismay, not only could we not determine the location, but in our efforts to answer the question we also encountered numerous people who said they did not know that people had been forcibly detained during World War II in Hawai‘i or that there were internment camps here!

This inquiry masked a deeper universal historical need for the general public to be informed that challenges to civil rights occur whenever there are threats to national security. Thus, from one relatively simple request for information from a constituent grew a research process which has informed a variety of outcomes. Sifting through existing data and reference materials led to tangible results.

Archeological reconnaissance  work over the past few years has exposed many foundations and other traces of structures at the Honouliuli site.

Archeological reconnaissance work over the past few years has exposed many foundations and other traces of structures at the Honouliuli site.

JCCH mounted an effort to collect, preserve and inventory surviving internee papers and arts and crafts. The fast-aging population of surviving internees is being interviewed to preserve their oral histories. An interpretive display and traveling exhibit, “Dark Clouds Over Paradise: The Hawai‘i Internees Story,” has been developed to share with the general public. A trilogy of internee accounts of their internment experiences is being prepared, using narrative, letters, and poetry. The first account has been published: a translation of Yasutaro Soga’s Life Behind Barbed Wire and the others are in development. In partnership with the Hawai‘i State Department of Education we are working to ensure that students study some facet of the history of internment during World War II in three required courses in grades 10 and 11. Because primary sources for teaching the story of World War II internment in Hawai‘i are difficult for teachers to find, folders of primary source material resources have been donated to every public high school.

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

Nashville's Station Inn Stays True to its Bluegrass Roots

Posted on: May 26th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Over the next few months, the staff of the National Preservation Conference will be blogging about their experiences during their pre-conference site visit trip to Nashville. The 2009 conference will take place October 13-19 in Nashville. Registration opens on June 1.

After many excursions to dive bars, dark music venues, and sultry art alleys throughout the nation, I think I found my favorite. It could have been the delicious barbecue I randomly came across while taking a half day tour of Nashville or the hilarious Doyle and Debbie show I caught, but I think the Station Inn in the Nashville Gulch took my heart. As if anything could have made my week-long trip to Nashville any better, this randomly placed, dark dive bar really took the cake. With a random assortment of furniture and one small "bar," if you could call it that, that sold bar food and small snacks, this place made you feel comfortable no matter what region or walk of life you came from.

(An aside: if you ever get the chance, go see Doyle and Debbie. They are hilarious, sing some songs that would make the most vulgar comedians blush and even, somehow, incorporate a hair piece into their act that bleeds down Doyle's face. Beware the front row.)

Anyway... this bar is great, and what makes it even better is the history behind it. Surrounding it are upscale, nouveau riche restaurants just recently built, modern sky-scraping townhouses, and even an Urban Outfitters across the street --  but it stays true to the history it has created. An old bluegrass music venue, it remains faithful to its purpose and provides simple entertainment without the glitz and glamour of the up-and-coming area it resides in. So if you get the chance, go visit this place, day or night. You won't regret it, trust me.

Adam Robinson is the program assistant for conferences and training in the Center for Preservation Leadership at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Individual Stories, Shared Histories

Posted on: May 22nd, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Priya Chhaya

I am not an ABCD—an American-Born Confused Desi—someone who doesn’t know where they stand, who struggles with being an American while being surrounded by cultural touch points of desh or the homeland (the moniker Desi refers to individuals of the South Asian diaspora).

I wear many hats. I am at once a historian, a preservationist, an American, and a South Asian. I love reading about the framers, the founders, the fathers, and the farmers—of seeing the history of this country through the tangible buildings, objects, and ideas that surround us every day. At the same time, despite spending my formative years learning about Early America, I can at once love the words of Mahatma Gandhi and his legacy and be proud of the role his beliefs and ideas had on Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movement. I am a South Asian American.

This is why I think historic preservation is so important. We all share at once a collective history—those broader strokes that give us the outline of our past, a frame on a grand painting of many colors. Individually, our unique stories provide the content: the figures, the shadow, and the shade that fill out the grand narrative of our identity.

To put it less metaphorically—without the “stuff” of history—those landscapes, buildings and ideas we fight to preserve every day, all we would have are the broad strokes where individuals don’t matter; where we don’t matter.

So as we go through celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month along with the various other affinity months we should remember that we‘re all connected. What we do saves my past, and our future.

Priya Chhaya is the program assistant in the office of Training and Online Information Services at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

"Wilderness Wal-Mart" Update: It's an Uphill Battle in Orange County, Virginia

Posted on: May 22nd, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

Written by Robert Nieweg

Last night more than 200 people attended a public hearing of the Orange County Planning Commission regarding Wal-Mart's proposal to construct 240,000 square feet of large-scale commercial development within the boundaries of the historic Wilderness Battlefield and immediately adjacent to the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park. The May 21, 2009, public hearing began with a packed house at 7:15 pm and ended with an exhausted Planning Commission at 11:15 pm. To its credit, the Planning Commission conducted a civil public hearing and appeared to listen closely to all who testified.

Seventy-three members of the public spoke to the Commission, with opponents of the destructive proposal outnumbering supporters two-to-one. One observer noted that 48 speakers said they were residents of Orange County, with 30 local residents speaking against the project and 18 speaking in favor. After closing the public hearing, the Planning Commission agreed to meet again June 11 to vote on this controversial issue. The commission's vote is purely advisory. A final decision by the Board of Supervisors is expected later in June.

Local members of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Wilderness Battlefield Coalition were out in force, with testimony from the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Southern Field Office, Civil War Preservation Trust, Friends of Wilderness Battlefield, Piedmont Environmental Council, National Parks Conservation Association, and Preservation Virginia. We are grateful that the National Park Service and Virginia Department of Historic Resources sent senior level staffers who provided informative testimony. Perhaps the most evocative testimony was provided late last night by Alexander Hays IV, a descendant of Union General Alexander Hays, who was killed during the Battle of the Wilderness on May 5, 1864. A former elected official himself, Mr. Hays said he traveled from Canton, Ohio, to strongly urge the commissioners to think long and hard before making this critical decision.

Proponents of Wal-Mart said they want convenient shopping, jobs for Orange County residents, and tax revenue -- all reasonable requests. Preservationists don't oppose commercial development in Orange County, but have asked Wal-Mart to relocate its store to another site in Orange County away from the battlefield and National Park. Clearly, there's room for compromise. That's why in January 2009 the National Trust and its allies in the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition offered to fund a land-use planning process to envision a better balance of historic preservation and sustainable economic growth at this highly vulnerable historic place. Orange County officials -- necessary partners in the proposed planning process -- have twice dismissed the offer of technical assistance.

Surprisingly, three of the five members of the elected Board of Supervisors have taken the unusual step of publicly expressing their support for the Wal-Mart project -- long before Wal-Mart's permit application was finalized or the first public hearing was held.

Controversy continues to swirl around the historic significance of the 52-acre site of the proposed Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, Wal-Mart's site stands within the historic boundaries of the battlefield, according to the congressionally authorized Civil War Sites Advisory Commission, National Park Service, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, and the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition. Unfortunately, the staff report to the Planning Commission from Orange County's Department of Community Development incorrectly says that the Wal-Mart site is only "in the near vicinity" of the battlefield. To correct the May 6, 2009, staff report, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources wrote the Planning Commission on May 20, 2009, that the "proposed Wal-Mart site is located entirely within the boundaries of the Wilderness Battlefield," that Wilderness Battlefield possesses the "highest level of historical significance and merits the highest priority for preservation," and that, in the Department's judgment, the proposed development would "have a serious adverse effect both on the Wilderness Battlefield and on the National Park."

For its part, Wal-Mart apparently continues to believe that "its store isn't on the battlefield and won't harm the nearby national park," according to the May 21, 2009, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star. Preservationists have gone to great lengths to correct Wal-Mart's misconception. Indeed, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has met at the battlefield with Wal-Mart representatives to provide a detailed briefing on the unique and irreplaceable nature of the battlefield site and the irrevocable harm that Wal-Mart's project would cause. Our analysis shows that the 240,000 square feet of commercial development proposed by Wal-Mart would be plainly visible from the battlefield and National Park, and would foreclose any opportunity to alter the existing tree coverage and restore the open vistas of the 1864 battlefield -- as the National Park Service and Friends of Wilderness Battlefield intend -- for the benefit of the American public.

If you would like to help save Wilderness Battlefield, the National Trust recommends that you should write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Help the National Trust for Historic Preservation to raise the alarm.

Robert Nieweg is the director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Southern Field Office.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

 

Nashville's 2nd Avenue by night.

Nashville's 2nd Avenue by night.

Despite a long-simmering crush on Johnny Cash (that I’ll have you know existed long, long before he was portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix in Walk the Line…  not that there was anything wrong with THAT), I vehemently deny any affection for country music. And, for that reason, Nashville has never been high on my list of Cities I Must Visit. So when the time came to go to Nashville for the conference department’s annual site visit, when we “dry run” all the field sessions, I looked forward to the barbecue more than anything else.

Friends, I was WRONG, so very, very, wrong.

Over the next few months, the staff of the National Preservation Conference will be blogging about our experiences during this trip in Nashville. What we found was a city rich in history, yet amazingly hip. That music industry -- the one I thought of as Hee-Haw writ large -- transcends genres and displays infinitely more talent than you’ll find in the Billboard Top 40. The neighborhoods are charming, and tell stories of decline and revitalization, of visionaries who fought for a diverse and vibrant urban fabric. Civil War history is thick there -- The Battle of Nashville and the Battle of Franklin await discovery only miles from Lower Broad, where honky-tonks offer live music all day long and Hatch Show Print sells vintage letterpress posters alongside those for the hottest shows currently on tour. Fisk University helps tell the story of the civil rights movement and the important strides that were made in Nashville. The compact downtown includes icons such as the Ryman Auditorium, churches where Presidents worshiped, live music, residential lofts, the Tennessee State Capitol, live music, a state of the art symphony center, several historic hotels, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and live music. And preserving all of this -- the buildings, the history, the culture, the landscapes -- is a priority to the city and to the residents. This is a town of proud and extremely hospitable people, who made us feel welcome everywhere we went.

So, to prepare for Nashville, I recommend that you go get yourself some Jack Daniels and read our blog as we’ll be periodically filling you in on special Nashville places and stories. You can then make your own lists of “must-sees,” and “can’t misses” (because those are the only categories I came up with after two weeks in town).

And I wasn’t wrong about the barbecue. There is plenty of good ‘cue in Nashville, too.

Lori Feinman is the associate director for conferences and training in the Center for Preservation Leadership at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The 2009 National Preservation Conference will take place October 13-19 in Nashville. Registration opens on June 1.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.