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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.

Outside of the Hawaii Theatre
Inside of the Hawaii Theatre
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
- 1922 Photo
- 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
-Owner: Private
-Historic Function: Recreation And Culture
-Historic Sub-function: Theater
-Current Function: Recreation And Culture
-Current Sub-function: Theater

1922
-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.

1950's
Consolidated Amusements took out the wicker chairs after World War II and replaced them with vinyl chairs.

1960's
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.

1969
An organ exactly like the original Hawaii Theatre organ was rescued from the closing Princess Theatre and moved to the Hawaii Theatre.

1970's
In 1970 Consolidated Amusements spent $50,000 to renovate the theater.

1978
Added to the National Register of Historic Places and the Hawaii Register of Historic Places in 1978. The National registration number is 78001021.

CLOSED WHEN?
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.

Mid 1980's
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.

1984
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.

1986
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?)

1996
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.

2002
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.

2003
Did final restorations begin in the first quarter of 2003?

2005:
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

2005
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 office Properties.

2006
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.

LOCATION:
  • between Hotel Street and Pauahi Street
  • corner of Bethel Street and Pauahi Street

    Hawaii Theatre
    Chinatown Honolulu
    1130 Bethel Street
    Honolulu, Hawaii 96813-2201
    Box Office: 808-528-0506
    See also:
    - 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



  • Related Links
    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

    Theater Closures <> 2007 Jun 15: Varsity Theater Has Closed
    -2005 May 05: Hawaii Loses Historic Waikiki Theatre
    2005 Apr 27: Hawaii's Waikiki Theatre Demolished
    http://www.geocities.com/hilobayatos/WaikikiTheatre.html?"> In Memory of the Waikiki Theatre



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