HONOLULU — A Hawaii historian and researcher is looking to preserve an old Quonset hut on Oahu that was possibly part of a segregated encampment for black laborers and enlisted men during World War II.
Deloris Guttman, who works with the African American Diversity Council Center Hawaii, is seeking to add the steel structure in Pearl City to the National Register of Historic Sites, Hawaii News Now reported this week.
The building was likely part of the U.S. military’s Manana Barracks.
“It was a storage house for the supplies for the 100 Quonset huts that were there in 1943 and ‘44,” Guttman said.
The Manana Barracks were the temporary homes of some famed African American athletes and musicians, including jazz legend John Coltrane, Guttman said.
“We have that history and their photographs, where they were entertaining at different clubs here on the island during World War II,” she said.
The building is on land owned by the University of Hawaii. It is on the site of the Oahu Urban Garden Center.
The university is willing to donate the building or relocate it off its property, university spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said. Designating the site as historic could place financial burdens on the university for repair and maintenance.
“There are a lot of questions that have to be answered, regarding public access, providing safe public access, lighting, the structure itself, its integrity, its safety,” Meisenzahl said.
Guttman is presenting her petition for historic recognition to the state Historic Preservation Division next month.