1130 Bethel Street
Architect: Emory & Webb
Style: Beaux Arts, Art Deco, Classical Revival
The Hawaii Theatre was designed in 1920 by Emory & Webb for Consolidated Amusement Company. The building is primarily Beaux Arts with its ornate moldings and classical pillars. Some elements of Art Deco were added later.
The theater opened in 1922 and was the first of its kind in Hawaii, and one of the most modern theaters in America. The theater had air conditioning, crown molding with indirect lighting, a fire and emergency exit system, and could seat 1,726 people. The original design accommodated both plays and movies.
Eventually, the Hawaii Theatre was converted to a movies-only theater, and the upstairs retiring rooms were renovated into offices for Consolidated Amusement Co. A marquee was added to the facade, and the wicker chairs in the theater were replaced with vinyl seats.
In 1970, the theater saw another renovation that included new paint, carpet, a reduction of seating to 1,200, and renovated restrooms. The theater became abandoned shortly after, and closed in 1984. The same year, a non-profit organization called the Hawaii Theatre Center formed to raise funds to purchase and restore the building exclusively for live performances. Surrounding properties were also purchased for stage expansion. The organization commissioned Malcolm Holzman from New York to draw the restoration plans.
Restoration for the new live performance theater began in 1992. The theater re-opened in 1996, following the completion of the interior renovation. The exterior renovation was ongoing until 2005. Some of the updates included an increased seating capacity to 1,350, a digital marquee, and an electronic lighting and sound system.