Preserving Historic Military Housing in Hawaii

Since the first battalion of Army engineers set up a tent camp in Kapiolani Park in 1898, military housing has been an integral, if largely unseen, aspect of the military presence in Hawaii. Preserved by federal law and protected from pressures that threaten older civilian neighborhoods, many homes in historic military neighborhoods remain remarkably intact. Mason Architects, with Belt Collins Hawaii, prepared Historic Context Study of Historic Military Family Housing in Hawaii, with a companion Illustrated Manual for Repair and Maintenance.  

The study was prepared for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Hawaii (NAVFAC) and funded by the Department of Defense Legacy Resources Management program.

NAVFAC selected nineteen historic neighborhoods on Oahu, all built between 1900 and World War II, that represent all four branches of the DoD and include 928 houses.

The report describes how military housing evolved:

  • In the early 1900s, tent camps
  • In the 1910s, two-story houses built from standardized plans, modified for the tropics
  • In the 1920s, one-story Craftsman-style bungalows
  • In the 1930s, Mission style houses, their flat roofs changed to hip to shed Hawaii’s rains
  • Between the wars, the Garden City model of widely-spaced houses in unfenced, parklike settings
  • During World War II, well-proportioned but simple houses, partly prefabricated, which were economical and quickly constructed.

Mason Architects described each neighborhood in terms of its significance and history, analyzed house designs (“Officers’ Quarters Two-Story Design”) and provided floor plans and historic and contemporary photos.

Character-defining features are identified for each design and character-detracting features are listed.

The Illustrated Manual describes materials and finishes; recommends methods for cleaning, care, and repair; and identifies appropriate replacement fixtures and hardware.

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Award: Historic Preservation Honor Award from the Historic Hawaii Foundation, 2005.

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Photos: U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii; MAI

Sgt. W.S. Sankey (5th Cavalry), his wife Lettie, and daughter Audrey in their tent house, Schofield Barracks, 1909.