ENCINITAS — Local mosaic artist and architect Terry Weaver is working to rebuild many of the homes lost in a raging wildfire that devastated the Maui community of Lahaina, including his own.
Terry Weaver narrowly escaped the fire with his life, but little else remained amid the smoldering Hawaiian landscape. Weaver lost his craftsman treehouse home, long-standing as a symbol of his creative spirit and artistic vision for those visiting the unique arboreal dwelling over the years.
Weaver, a longtime Encinitas resident and 1974 graduate of San Dieguito High School, left his distinct mosaic artworks all over the city, including a rendition of the city seal and 17 mosaic medallions embedded in downtown sidewalks.
Partnering with Bob Partlow, Weaver helped design the arching Encinitas sign over Coast Highway 101 near D Street at the south end of town.
Throughout his professional career, Weaver traveled back and forth between the San Diego area and Hawaii, living on the islands of Kauai and Oahu before moving to Lahaina in 1999.
In the small Maui community, Weaver stayed in a one-bedroom treehouse standing on palm tree stumps that initially served as a workshed on the family property of his friend, Ekolu Lindsey.
Over the years, Weaver transformed the workshed-turned-treehouse into a craftsman work of art.
“Every door, every window, every piece of art – I made it,” Weaver said.
Weaver continued to make art in his treehouse home. One of his more recent projects was a mosaic he created with granite rocks from Native American reservations in San Diego County. But all of his work and more was lost in the deadliest U.S. wildfire in nearly a century ripped through his town.
On that tragic day just two weeks ago, Weaver first smelled the fire when returning home from the store. According to Weaver, as the wind picked up, the fire grew fast, jumping a block every 15 minutes.
“I had a feeling it was going to hit us,” Weaver said.
Weaver and his friends who lived on the property listened to the news until it was time to evacuate. When they left, the fire was burning a few homes away.
Weaver began crying as he left his dream home, saying goodbye to years of memories as he fled from high walls of fire and black smoke. Weaver stayed at another friend’s home until it was time to evacuate.
Once outside of town, Weaver and other evacuees either slept in their cars or watched as the fires destroyed their homes. The following day, Weaver and his friends discovered everything – the treehouse, property, boats, surfboards and more — was gone.
“I didn’t know what to do, so I started driving,” Weaver said.
The Lahaina firestorm has taken a severe toll on the Maui community, with the death toll now at 115 as of Aug. 21 and more than 850 people still missing as rescue crews continue to sweep the damage.
After he started driving, Weaver connected with Steve Long, a friend and fellow architect who agreed to partner with him to help people rebuild their homes. Long, who specializes in fire remediation after disasters, came out of retirement along with Weaver for the cause.
In just a few days, the two architects have agreed to work with nearly two dozen people to rebuild their homes and businesses.
Weaver has earned praise for his artwork and efforts to help the island of Maui rebuild from Encinitas community leaders.
“Terry Weaver’s artistic contributions have enriched our community, and we stand with him and all the residents of Maui during this challenging period,” said Daphne Fletcher, president-elect of the Encinitas Rotary Club, which is helping coordinate fundraising efforts for victims of the Maui fires.
With Weaver’s help, Fletcher said the Encinitas Rotary Club is raising money to help the Lahaina Rotary Club, which also lost everything in the fire.
“To my knowledge, this is the first Encinitas Rotary Club fundraiser that we’ve done that will help benefit another rotary club, as well as all the other residents in the Lahaina area,” Fletcher said. “Our fundraiser will be sent to the Maui general relief fund hosted by Rotary District 5000 Foundation in Hawaii who will make sure the money goes directly to the affected areas.”
Those interested in contributing can mail a check to the Encinitas Rotary Foundation at P.O. Box 230223, Encinitas, CA 92023. Donations are tax-deductible.