Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, August 14, 1998


Each shirt sold for the Friends For Ewa
drawing has a different number.

May get you this:

Work continues on the house on Luluka Street
in Ewa that's being given away in a drawing.

Home free

By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
The Friends For Ewa is giving away a four-bedroom,
two-bath home for the price of a T-shirt.

Friends For Ewa finance
restoration of prized mansion
by giving away a house

By Burl Burlingame


IT'S a good thing that historic preservation isn't baseball, because the little plantation town of Ewa would have struck out of the game by now.

Strike one, Ewa Plantation (which became Oahu Sugar) went out of business in the early 1970s. Then the area hit the skids economically. Then the government became interested in that end of Oahu as a kind of junior Honolulu, which meant that older neighborhoods could potentially vanish in a frenzy of new construction.

Then -- Ball One! -- the city designated Ewa as a historic neighborhood, which bought some breathing space. But then came two fast sliders: the state's economic woes, which meant that cultural preservation became a luxury; and the city's scandal-plagued revitalization plan for Ewa, which is still being sorted out.

Add to that, notes Bob Kato, the Friends For Ewa acting executive director, the city is placing remaining properties in the district up for sale, putting the historic master plan in possible jeopardy.

Despite all this, the Friends For Ewa are proceeding with recreating the ambiance of a bygone day, says Kato, in the last authentic plantation community in the United States.

"One of the things that identified the community was the Ewa Plantation Carnival, which we're bringing back in December," said Kato. On Dec. 6, the last day of the four-day carnival, the Friends will pick a number and give away a house.

Actually, to extend the baseball metaphor even farther, it'll be T-shirt day. The number will likely be printed on one of thousands of T-shirts sold between now and then to help restore the Plantation Manager's Mansion, the centerpiece of the historic Ewa campus.

By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Friends For Ewa sit in front of Manager's Mansion. The
home will be renovated with funds raised in a
house giveaway contest.

The free house, valued at more than $220,000, is a fee-simple rebuilt, four-bedroom plantation-style home with two bathrooms, a carport, on a 7,500-square-foot lot, said Kato. "It's really nice."

Here's the deal: Buy a T-shirt from the Friends, get a chance at the house. Everything's paid for -- the land fee, the renovation, taxes. Move right in and become part of historic Ewa.

The Friends hope to raise about $300,000 to start restoration of the manager's structure, a job that will eventually cost about $1.3 to $1.5 million. "We'll get matching funds from mainland preservation groups, and do another fund raiser next year," Kato said. "The reason it costs so much is that it needs a full restoration, down to the plumbing and wiring, and doing it in a historically correct manner costs more. And I KNOW we're going to find asbestos. That always drives the price up."

The mansion will be the centerpiece of a completely restored village, similar to Colonial Williamsburg, within 10 years, said Kato. Dozens of other smaller structures will need to be renovated as well.

The T-shirts are the basic white cotton, with a rainbow of corporate logos on the back and the Friends logo on the front, along with that all-important number.

And it's not gambling.

"Everyone has an even playing field, and we have a letter from the state attorney general dated last August interpreting the law for us," said Kato. "Basically, gambling is exchanging something of value for a chance at winning something. You don't have to buy a T-shirt. You can just ask for numbers and we have to provide them to you."

Are people -- cheap people without any real interest in restoring Ewa -- actually demanding free numbers?

"Sure. No more than one a day, though," said Kato. "The key is the phrase 'No Purchase Necessary.' But the T-shirts are going well, too, and that's the whole point. It's the T-shirts that are funding the restoration. We've already printed 30,000 to get ahead of the game if demand goes up."

If you're not the T-shirt type, you can just donate the same amount and get a number, said Kato.

"A lot of people visit and see the area, and then buy several T-shirts when they see how nice it is, " said Kato. "We haven't done a lot of publicity and we've brought in several thousand dollars already."

Some of these dollars are global. Since the Hawaii Visitors Bureau put a link to the restoration giveaway on their web site ( potential Ewa-ites in Japan and the mainland have bought chances, said Kato.


Friends for Ewa T-shirt

Bullet What: T-shirts for sale as a fundraiser to help restore Ewa Plantation's Manager's Mansion. Buy a T-shirt, get a shot at a free house.

Bullet When: Drawing will be held Dec. 6 at the 2nd Annual Ewa Plantation Carnival

Bullet Where: Available through mail order or by calling 681-3284 or 681-4300.

Bullet Cost: $12 ($15 for XX- and XXX-large), plus $3 delivery charges for mail order

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