Mother Waldron Playground CLR and HALS


Kaka‘ako, O‘ahu, Hawai‘i


Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation and Jacobs

Mother Waldron Playground is a 1.7-acre playground located within an urban park in Kaka‘ako. HHF completed a Cultural Landscape Report (CLR) as part of a series of planning studies for the HART rail transit corridor. The work highlights the park’s cultural landscape in the context of its historic use associated with the organized play and playground movement of the early twentieth century. Through extensive research, HHF was able to secure the original landscape plans created by noted architect, Harry Sims Bent. With original plans in hand, our team evaluated the level of historic character the playground retains based on careful documentation and comparison of existing and historic conditions. We analyzed the integrity of the playground and found that it continues to convey Bent’s original 1930s landscape design intent with a symmetrical plan featuring a central comfort station with curved pergolas, a broad open lawn, and numerous play courts. Art Moderne and Art Deco-inspired design elements are extant, particularly for the comfort station, pergolas, walls and piers. To help with future design decisions and management of the historic playground, HHF prepared a treatment plan with recommendations that honor the historic fabric of the park while recognizing the changes occuring in the vicinity.

In addition to the CLR, HHF led the photodocumentation of the Mother Waldron Playground for the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS). We selected landscape features for professionally formatted photos and provided descriptions of existing landscape features including those that contribute to the historic character of the playground. The Mother Waldron Playground HALS document (HALS-HI-27) is archived at the Library of Congress.

In 2021, The Mother Waldron Playground Cultural Landscape Report was the recipient of awards from both the American Planning Association Hawai‘i Chapter (Cultural/Historic Preservation Award) and the Historic Hawai‘i Foundation (Programmatic Award).


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