Photos: Courtesy of Richard A. Cooke III
UPDATE: SAVED IN 2010
The Friends of Kalaniana‘ole Hall restored the building through grants, the work of volunteers, and Mason Architects.
LISTED AS ENDANGERED IN 2007
Article Written By: Michael Keany, HONOLULU Magazine
What is it?
Kalaniana‘ole Hall stands empty these days, among the coconuts of the Kapua‘iwa royal grove in Kalama‘ula, but it was once one of Molokai’s most important community centers. Built in 1937 on Department of Hawaiian Homelands property, it was primarily a funeral hall, but it also served as a general gathering place, a movie theater and a place of refuge for the Hawaiian community. It was named after Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana‘ole, who was responsible for the creation of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act in 1921, and the hall remains an important artifact from that era. “It’s probably the best example of the Hawaiian vernacular in plantation architecture of the 1920s and ’30s on Moloka‘i,” says Abbey Mayer, executive director of the Moloka‘i Enterprise Community.
What threatens it?
Today, the hall is in almost total disrepair. The building’s footings are sinking, making it sag unevenly. Holes in the roof let the rain in; pillars have dropped as much as a foot and a half from level. Mayer says termites have done so much damage to the wood that they can’t even tent-fumigate the building, for fear of collapse.
What can be done?
The Moloka‘i Enterprise Community took on the restoration of the hall in 2003, but the project has gone slowly—planning mostly, with no work being done on site. In October, though, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs approved a $500,000 grant for the hall, which Mayer says will jump start the restoration process, allowing them to begin on the most critical repairs. It’s encouraging, but more than half of the total $1.1 million estimated cost of renovation remains outstanding.