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Sunday, February 15, 2004



[ A WALKING TOUR ]

Holoholo Honolulu


Hawaii Theatre back to
its original ‘new’ look


People often call it the "old Hawaii Theatre," but when it was built in 1922, the official title was the "New Hawaii Theatre."

And, to prove that everything old is new again, architects Emory & Webb's ornate Beaux Arts candy box is a masterpiece of baroque design themes rife in American theater design in the 1920s.

Commissioned by Consolidated Amusements, the New Hawaii was one of the most modern theaters in the nation when it opened.

Designed to house both live performances and the then-new medium of movies, the structure cost half a million dollars and boasted air conditioning, indirect lighting, wicker chairs with a seating capacity of 1,726 patrons, a double cantilever balcony that provided superb views of the stage (despite the large number of seats, the house feels intimate) and a lush mix of decorative styles dreamed up by architect Marshall Webb, designer Homer Merrill and sculptor Julius Rosenstein, which seem almost religious in their rich patina -- classical Greek and Roman (Greek and Roman as imagined by Hollywood) with an overlay of Art Deco elements.

A huge allegorical mural called "Glorification of Diana" was painted by Lionel Walden directly on the proscenium arch, surmounted by a mosaic dome created by Gordon Usborne.

It's a magnificent space, a palace of dreams.

The Hawaii Theatre gradually became a movie-only facility, and Consolidated ripped out the wicker chairs and replaced them with institutional vinyl after the war, hung a giant marquee on the front and in 1970 spent $50,000 on a renovation that further streamlined the facility.

By the 1980s the theater was abandoned and derelict. A group of concerned citizens, including preservation spark plugs Dr. Norman Goldstein and artist Ramsay, began lobbying to have the theater restored to its former glory. Millions were spent in one of the most expensive theatrical renovations ever.

The "new" old Hawaii Theatre has largely been re-created, with modern electronic and theater elements alongside the 1920s design schemes. The exterior of the building is due for a face lift this spring.

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Hawaii Theatre

Opened: 1922
Architect: Emory & Webb
Style: Art Deco, Classical Revival
Address: 1130 Bethel St.
National Register: 1978 No. 78001021
Hawaii Register: 1978



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BURL BURLINGAME / BBURLINGAME@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Hawaii Theatre was one of the nation's most modern theaters when it was built in 1922, designed to accommodate stage acts as well as the new medium of film. Back then, the seats were made of wicker.


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FILE PHOTO
The theater continued to entertain sailors and civilians as live shows gave way to films.


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BURL BURLINGAME / BBURLINGAME@STARBULLETIN.COM
Today, restoration work on the theater continues as it lures patrons with dance and music performances.



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Quicktime VR Panorama
Click on pictures to view panaromas

BURL BURLINGAME / BBURLINGAME@STARBULLETIN.COM


BURL BURLINGAME / BBURLINGAME@STARBULLETIN.COM


BURL BURLINGAME / BBURLINGAME@STARBULLETIN.COM


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See Honolulu City Highlights


Various Honolulu historical organizations have clamored for years to have some sort of survey created of downtown Honolulu's historical sites. The mayor's Office of Economic Development stepped in last year to create order, and 50 locations were chosen as representative of Honolulu's history.

There is, of course, far more history in Honolulu's streets than indicated here, but these sites give the high points and can be visited on a walking tour lasting about three hours.

Click to view enlarged map

To commemorate Honolulu's bicentennial, the Star-Bulletin kicks off "Holoholo Honolulu" today, a year-long project to examine these historic properties. For the next 50 Sundays in the Travel section, stories and photographs will illuminate these sites.

But that's just the tip of the architectural iceberg. Viewers can step right into these locations via the magic of QuickTime Virtual Reality, a computer process that allows visitors from around the world to feel as if they're standing right there on the street.


WE'RE ALSO looking for old photographs of these sites to scan for public use. If you have anything, let us know:

Write to:
Holoholo
Honolulu Star-Bulletin
7-210 Waterfront Plaza
500 Ala Moana
Honolulu, HI 96813.

E-mail:
bburlingame@starbulletin.com



Every Sunday in the Star-Bulletin Travel section, rediscover the charms of old Hawaii through a tour created by the Honolulu Historic Trail Committee and Historic Hawai'i Foundation and supported by the city's Office of Economic Development. The yearlong project commemorates Honolulu's bicentennial.

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