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Maui structure closer to being called historic

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WAILUKU » One of the last remnants of Maui’s plantation era is getting closer to receiving historic status.

The Old Kahului Railroad Building has been nominated to the Hawaii and national registers of historic places. The Hawaii Historic Places Review Board and State Historic Preservation officer will decide in February whether to place the building on the state registry, the Maui News reported Monday.

The officer will then forward the decision to the National Park Service, which will consider it for the National Register of Historic Places.

The 1923 administration building was headquarters for the railroad’s rail yard at Kahului Harbor. The railroad was Hawaii’s first and last fully operating sugar transportation railway.

The railroad hauled the last trainload of cane to the harbor in 1966. The railroad also served as transportation for Central Maui students attending the old Maui High School campus in Hamakuapoko.

The T-shaped concrete building was designed by Maui architect William D’Esmond and has a classical revival-style structure with a flat roof and Greek columns.

"It’s part of an era that was, in lots of ways, graceful and simple," said Roz Lightfoot, director of the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum.

"I think it’s a very special part of Maui’s history, and I think it should be preserved and being on a registry can do that."

Alexander & Baldwin owned the building until the property was sold to the state in the late 2000s.

The state Department of Transportation is designing renovations and plans to maintain the exterior of the building to preserve its historic character.

"It’s very visible," county spokesman Rod Antone said. "We have a lot of cruise ships passing by and visitors walking by. It’s probably one of the most visible areas on the island, and we’re hoping something is done to improve the area."

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