The Historic Hawaii Theatre
Downtown Honolulu, Hawaii
The Hawaii Theatre is located near Chinatown in Downtown Honolulu.
When it first opened in September of 1922 it was known as the
"New Hawaii Theatre". It was closed for many years but it reopened
in 1996 after being complete restored. Today it is a popular
performance venue that has been added to
the National Register of Historic Places.
Photo Credit: United States National Trust
Select each picture to view a larger image
One hour tours of the theater are available
Photo of Inside
Photo of Outside
1941 Photo (a)
1941 Photo (b)
National Trust Award
Restoration of hawaii Theatre Murals
by Conrad Schmitt Studios.
Added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1978
-Hawaii Theatre ** (added 1978 - Building - #78001021)
-Also known as New Hawaii Theatre;The Hawaii
-1130 Bethel St., Honolulu
-Historic Significance: Event, Architecture/Engineering
-Architect, builder, or engineer: Pacific Engineering Co., Webb,Marshall
-Architectural Style: Art Deco, Classical Revival
-Area of Significance: Architecture, Art, Entertainment/Recreation
-Period of Significance: 1900-1924
-Historic Function: Recreation And Culture
-Historic Sub-function: Theater
-Current Function: Recreation And Culture
-Current Sub-function: Theater
-Date theater first opened: September 6, 1922
-Original name was the "New Hawaii Theatre"
-Designer was Homer Merrill
-Sculptor was Julius Rosenstein
-A mix of styles: Greek, Roman, Art Deco
-Architects were Walter L. Emory and Marshall H. Webb
-Built by the Consolidated Amusement Comapny
-Seating capacity wwhen it opened: 1700 to 1800
-Purpose when it opened: vaudville and movie theater
-it was a grand movie palace
-Known as the "Pride of the Pacific"
-Built when Hawaii was still a U.S. territory, 37 years before statehood
-The day after its grand opening The Three Muskateers starring
-Douglas Fairbanks played to a packed house
1936 or 1937
The Hawaii Theatre's original Robert Morton 4/16 pipe
organ was moved to the Waikiki Theater in 1936.
Consolidated Amusements took out the wicker chairs
after World War II and replaced them with vinyl chairs.
Struggled to stay alive in the 1960's and 1970's
As Waikiki Beach was developed, the shopping and entertainment
center of Honolulu began moving from downtown
Honolulu to Waikiki. Chinatown area began a declining.
An organ exactly like the original Hawaii Theatre organ
was rescued from the closing Princess Theatre and moved
to the Hawaii Theatre.
In 1970 Consolidated Amusements spent $50,000
to renovate the theater.
Added to the National Register of Historic Places
and the Hawaii Register of Historic Places in 1978.
The National registration number is 78001021.
Closed in 1984 or the late 1970's? (abandoned by the 1980's)
Many wanted to tear downt he theater but a gropu of
supporters began acampaign to raise money to purchase
and restore the theater.
Revitalization of Chinatown area
got a boost in themid 1980s when
the ahawaii Theatre was rescued from being
torn down by citizens who recognized its historic value.
In 1984 the Hawaii Theatre was in danger of being
demlished. the Artist "Ramsay" (a woman, owner of
the Ramsay Museum in Chinatown) secured the option
to purchase the theater using funds she received from an
art commission. At that a non-profit corporation was
formed and it was called the Hawaii Theatre Center.
A 1986 grant from the Honolulu Advertiser allowed
Theater restorer Mary L. Bishop to be brought to
Hawaii to evaluate possible restoration of the
Hawaii Theatre. her 54 page report became the foundation
for converting the theater to a performing arts center.
The Hawaii Theatre Center retained her consultant
services for another ten years after the report.
She helped retarin New York theater restoration
architects hardy Holzman Pfeiffer and other
restoration experts to help with the theater
restoration project. Mary Bishop also co-authoried
the theater business planand made presentations
to the community in suppot of the theater.
She lived in hawaii from the time of her first report
until the theater reopened in 1996, when she moved back
to her home town of Colubus (ohio?)
The Hawaii Theatre eopened in May of 1996 after a $28 million
renovation. When it re-opened the renovation was not complete.
The formal entry, marquee, and outside painting
still needed to be done, but the project was stalled due
to lack of funds. It was estimated the additional work
would costabotu $2 million.
In July of 2002 the Hawaii Theatre Center received
$1 million from the Hawaii state legislature
to help restore it. Up to that point the center
had raised more then $8 million toward their
$10 million goal that would allow them to restore the
building's facade and pay off its mortgage. The
campaign was called "Light Up the Hawaii".
The campaign was led by Hawaii Theatre Center
Chairman Robert Midkiff.
The center also received a Kresge Foundation
Challenge Grant that would give them $500,000
if they could raise $1.5 on their own.
One way their raised money was with a seat campaign,
where specific seats int he theater would be named
after people for a contribution of $1000 to $5000.
Areas of the theater named after contributors
included the J. Watumull Outer Lobby, and the
Henry Zuberano Stage. The Harold K.L. Castle
Foundatoin contributed $500,000 to restore the
theater's facade. The Frear Trust contributed
$175,000 to help construct the vertical sign.
The Teruya Foundation contributed $100,000
was memorialized by installing a plaque under the
Hamletbass reliefe in the loge. The widow
of Hawaii Five-O's Jack Lord (marie Lord)
contributed $200,000 toward restoring the marquee.
Other areas in need of restoration included the
theater dome, banquet room, fire curtain, grand drape,
orchestra pit, film screen, and dressing rooms.
As of July 2002, construction was expected to
begin in the first quarter of 2003.
Did final restorations begin in the first
quarter of 2003?
The Hawaii Theatre received the 2005 Outstanding
Historic Theatre Award from the League of Historic
American Theatres. HTC President
Sarah Richards accepted the award. It was an award
for demonstrating the
the highest standards of excellence in its vision,
execution of the physical restoration and community service
In 2005 the Hawaii Theatre
(or was it Ferraro Choi and Assofciates)
received the Renovation Project
of the Year Award for the theater's
historic exterior facade renovation project.
That honor was awarded by the
National Association of Industrial and
Received award from the National Trust for Historic
Preservation in ?
Received award from the League of Historic American
Theaters in ?.
Theatre received a $30 million makeover in ?
Now it is used mainly for live performing arts
but I believe it still as a single screen movie theater.
Today it has a seating capacity of 1400.
between Hotel Street and Pauahi Street
corner of Bethel Street and Pauahi Street
1130 Bethel Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813-2201
Box Office: 808-528-0506
Inside Photo of the Hawaii Theatre
Outside Photo of the Hawaii Theatre
Kumu Kahua Theatre in Downtown Honolulu
Other Historic Buildings on Oahu:
Historic Building Tours on Oahu
Historic Home Tours on Oahu
The Historic Capitol District of Honolulu
Oahu Island - Main Menu
Islands of Hawaii
Hawaii for Visitors
Elsewhere on the Web
2006 May 02:
Hawaii Theatre Gets Refurnished
2006 May 02:
Diagram of the of the Hawaii Theatre
2006 May 02:
Opening Week Performance Schedule
2004 Feb 15:
Hawaii Theatre Back To Its Original Look
2003 Nov 28:
Historic Waikiki Organ Fades Out
2003 Sep 28:
Man Who Helped Save Hawaii Theatre Dies
2002 Jul 05:
Hawaii Theatre Receives $1 Million
2001 Mar 09:
Theatre Restorer Mary L. Bishop Dies
1997 Jan 30:
Hawaii Theatre is Bringing Traffic Downtown
1996 May 13:
Hawaii Theatre: The Perfect Co-Star
Plan to Move Waikiki Organ to Hilo
2007 Jun 15:
Varsity Theater Has Closed
-2005 May 05:
Hawaii Loses Historic Waikiki Theatre
2005 Apr 27:
Hawaii's Waikiki Theatre Demolished
In Memory of the Waikiki Theatre