Controverisal UH Manoa home hit $1 million maintenance mark

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Apr 29 2013 07:02:26 PM HST

The controversial College Hill home in Manoa has been described by some as the "jewel" of the University of Hawaii Manoa campus. Others bristle at the high cost of maintaining it.

HONOLULU -

The controversial College Hill home in Manoa has been described by some as the "jewel" of the Unviersity of Hawaii at Manoa campus.  Others bristle at the high cost of maintaining it.

Crews have been working on and off at College Hill for the past four years.  The tab has now hit the $1 million mark.

UH officials say in the process of overhauling the porte cochere and back lanai, crews uncovered termite damage in the main house and cottage.

That's why they decided to call in a structural engineer to reevaluate the work.  A half-dozen change orders and two contracts later, crews have also replaced the roof, windows and siding.

"They are going to tent it when they are finished and they are going to do ground termite treatment and we are going to contract the termite treatment out for the next five to 10 years," said Vassilus Syrmos, UH vice chancellor for research and facilities.

Syrmos is suggesting that perhaps the UH Foundation take over from here.

"The question I have in my mind if the foundation take over the property, and create maybe a donor's friends -- Atherton House Friends -- that would pay for the repair and maintenance.  This is a gorgeous house!" said Syrmos.

Former UH president Fujio Matsuda isn't sure if that's the best plan.  He thinks the university has a responsibility for its upkeep.  Matsuda's understanding was the home was donated to be the official residence of the president.

"That's what it was intended for and that's what I think we should use it for, otherwise we should return that nice property.  It was the Atherton Family." said Matsuda.

Matsuda says he has fond memories of the home.  He lived there between 1974 and 1984 when he retired.

The home was briefly being used as a venue after President MRC Greenwood declined to move in.  Greenwood is currently being paid a $60,000 housing allowance while this house sits vacant and under repair.

This is the second time in 12 years that UH has paid a million dollars in renovation costs for College Hill.

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