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Preserving the Past: Restoring the Treasures of Kualoa Ranch - A Journey of Restoration for a Damaged Historic Home in Hawaii. 

5/31/2023 (Permalink)

Restoring a home in Kualoa Ranch, Oahu | Restoration Hawaii A restoration project of a historic home located in Kualoa Ranch, Oahu, Hawaii.

In the heart of Kualoa Ranch on the captivating island of Oahu, a historic home was recently wounded by an unexpected force. A car, driven by fate and circumstances beyond anyone’s control, crashed into its sturdy wall, leaving behind a trail of damage and repair. Luckily, the family inside the home was not in the living room at the time of the crash, as coral rocks from the broken wall shattered several windows. 

Shortly after the incident, the homeowners insurance company contacted SERVPRO of Kailua to conduct an inspection to assess the damage for the restoration of the home. SERVPRO of Kailua completed an inspection and estimate of repairs for the project and after a few weeks was able to assemble a team to rebuild the Coral Wall and replace the 80 year old windows that were damaged.

Restoration of Historical Homes in Hawaii

Homes in Kualoa Ranch, located on the island of Oahu, possess a unique architectural feature, and a challenge for restoring this home-they are made of coral. Historically, the Hawaiians would harvest large pieces of coal from the reefs and transport them to the construction site. These coral blocks were then carefully arranged and interlocked to form the walls of the homes. Skillful craftsmanship involved in fitting the irregular shaped coral pieces together allowed for the creation of structurally sound walls that could withstand the test of time. 

The use of coral as a building material offered several advantages. Firstly, coral was abundant in the region, making it an easily accessible resource for construction. Secondly, its natural composition provided excellent insulation, keeping the interiors cool in the tropical climate and reducing the need for additional cooling mechanisms. Additionally, coral proved to be highly durable and resistant to pests, making it an ideal material for the construction of long-lasting homes. 

Although coral was widely used in the construction of historic homes in Kualoa Ranch, it is important to note that the harvesting of coral from reefs is now strictly regulated to protect the fragile marine ecosystem. The coral-built homes at Kualoa Ranch stand as a reminder of the ingenious methods employed by ancient Hawaiians to adapt and thrive in their environment. 

Restoration of a historic home in Hawaii, requires a meticulous and specialized approach to ensure the preservation of its historical integrity. Here is a step-by-step process for reconstruction of a coral built wall: 

  1. Assessment and Documentation:
    • Thoroughly assess the current condition of the damaged coral wall. Identify areas that require repair or replacement and document the original design and arrangement of the coral blocks to guide the restoration process. 
  2. Gather Materials:
    • Source coral blocks from authorized suppliers who adhere to sustainable harvesting practices or obtain coral blocks from salvaged or reclaimed sources. Ensure compliance with local regulations and consult with experts in historic preservation to ensure authenticity and cultural sensitivity. 
  3. Site Preparation: 
    • Clear the damaged wall and create a safe and accessible work environment. Remove any debris, vegetation, or unstable elements that may hinder the restoration process. 
  4. Disassembly:
    • Carefully disassemble the damaged portions of the wall, taking note of the original positioning and interlocking patterns of the coral blocks. Label and store the salvaged coral blocks or future use. 
  5. Cleaning and Sorting: 
    • Clean the salvaged blocks using non-abrasive methods, such as gentle brushing or rinsing with water. Sort the blocks, ensuring they match the original aesthetics of the wall. 
  6. Foundation Preparation: 
    • Prepare a solid and level foundation to support the reconstructed wall. Ensure proper drainage and consider incorporating appropriate structural reinforcement techniques, if necessary. 
  7. Rebuilding: 
    • Begin rebuilding the wall by carefully placing the coral blocks in their original patterns. Use traditional techniques, such as coral mortal or lime-base mortar, to bind the blocks together, maintaining the historic authenticity of the construction. 
  8. Mortar Application:
    • Apply the mortar mixture between the coral blocks, taking care not to disrupt the original design. 
  9. Finishing Touches: 
    • Smooth the mortar joints to match the texture and appearance of the original wall. Take care to recreate any decorative elements or architectural details present in the original design. 

It is crucial to involve professionals experienced in historic preservation and restoration in Hawaii to oversee the rebuilding process. Their expertise in reconstruction and adherence to cultural and historical sensitivities will contribute to the successful restoration of the historic homes and structures in Hawaii, preserving its significance for generations to come. 

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