Hawaii Theatre Receives National Trust Award
November 2, 2006
The historic Hawaii Theater in Honolulu received the National Preservation
Honor Award from the United States National Trust for Historic
Preservation in 2006.
Photo Credit: United States National Trust
National Trust Presents National Preservation Honor Award to the
Hawaii Theatre Center in Honolulu
On November 2, 2006 the National Trust for Historic Preservation
presented the Hawaii Theatre Center in Honolulu its prestigious
Honor Award. The project was one of 21 national award winners
honored by the National Trust during its week-long 2006 National
Preservation Conference in Pittsburgh, Pa.
When it opened in 1922, the Hawaii Theatre - with its splendid neo-classic
design - was a showstopper in Honolulu's bustling Chinatown neighborhood.
A grand movie palace, the theatre was famous for its double cantilevered
balcony, steel reinforced concrete foundation, air cooling system with
vents under each of the theatre's 1,700 seats and scenery from one of
America's foremost set designers.
Affectionately called "The Pride of the Pacific," the theatre was built
when Hawaii was still a territory of the United States and statehood was
37 years away. An immediate sensation, the Hawaii screened Douglas
Fairbanks' The Three Musketeers to packed houses the day after its
With the development of Waikiki Beach though, the entertainment center
of the city gradually shifted away from the downtown area, and Chinatown
became a backwater, its decline tragically epitomized in the 1984
closing of the once-grand Hawaii Theatre. While demolition seemed
imminent, supporters weren't ready to let the theatre die. They
formed a nonprofit corporation, garnered support from business
leaders and conducted three successful capital campaigns, raising
more than $32 million to purchase, restore and reopen the showplace.
The extensive renovations included everything from fašade restoration
and stabilization to a replica of the familiar "HAWAII" neon sign.
"Movie palaces are all about fantasy - but the
restoration of the Hawaii Theatre has sparked a revitalization that
is a vibrant reality," said Richard Moe, president of the National
Trust for Historic Preservation. "The restoration of the Hawaii is a
lasting tribute to a community that refused to see a cherished icon
Today, the Hawaii Theatre is a financially successful - and drop-dead
glamorous - performance venue that attracts more than 100,000 patrons
annually. The Hawaii Theatre's success has jump-started revitalization
all over Chinatown, reversing decay and attracting reinvestment that
has spruced up every building in the theatre's vicinity. More than
60,000 people now live in the once-struggling neighborhood, and
thousands more flock to the restaurants, stores and galleries that
have sprung up since the theatre's reopening.
The National Preservation Awards are bestowed on distinguished
individuals, nonprofit organizations, public agencies and corporations
whose skill and determination have given new meaning to their communities
through preservation of our architectural and cultural heritage.
These efforts include citizen attempts to save and maintain important
landmarks; companies and craftsmen whose work restores the richness of
the past; the vision of public officials who support preservation
projects and legislation in their communities; and educators and
journalists who help Americans understand the value of preservation.
Inside Photo of the Hawaii Theatre
Outside Photo of the Hawaii Theatre
Kumu Kahua Theatre in Downtown Honolulu
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