Thursday, March 4, 2010

New Kalaniana'ole Hall Opens its Doors

Renovations celebrated by official blessing.
By Heather Driscoll
The Molokai Dispatch

Upon completion of Kalaniana'ole Hall's restoration efforts, several Molokai community members gathered to witness its blessing on Tuesday, Feb. 9 in Kalama'ula.

Plans to renovate the historic building were first brought forth in 2003. The organization Friends of Kalaniana'ole immediately jumped on board with financial support, mustering grants from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) and the Molokai Enterprise Community (EC), as well as help from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development, Lokahi Pacific and other groups.

Students in the Hawaiian immersion program perform for all that celebrated Kalaniana'ole Hall's blessing on Feb. 9.The newly-rehabilitated hall, which has weathered many of Molokai's ups and downs, will now function as what it was originally intended for - a meeting place and haven for community members. Anna Lou Arakaki of Ka Hale La'a O 'Ierusalema Hou Church conducted the blessing as community members witnessed the official opening of their hall. The event was accompanied by lunch and entertainment.

Benny Venenciano, EC member, said Kalaniana'ole Hall holds great symbolism, especially for the kupuna.

"Many [Molokai residents] have good memories of this place," Venenciano said. "Opening [the hall] allows kupuna to reflect on their childhood experiences."

While OHA spearheaded the restoration efforts by contributing $500,000 to the project, other organizations forked over equally-generous amounts including the USDA Rural Development with $100,000, the DHHL with $50,000, and the EC with $153,000. Together, the organizations anted up $803,000; combined with other donations and volunteer work, a total of $1.4 million was spent on the project.

Through the years, the 73-year-old building underwent natural deterioration, including damage to its walls, windows and ceilings, and even a collapsing roof − all posing major safety hazards.

Historic Value

After realizing the need for repair, friends of Kalaniana'ole went to Ke Aupuni Lokahi (KAL), who acted as project manager, assisting with the provisions of funds and overseeing the renovations. OHA then stepped in as a major funder and assisted with cost assessment.

"[The hall] is going to be used for meetings and funerals," Venenciano said. "It's what it was used for in the past, so we need to stay close to that and retain that value."

Originally, the historic Kalaniana'ole Hall, built in 1937, was used for funeral services, overnight vigils and 'ohana viewings, as well as parties, weddings, hula contests and weekend movies. In 2003 its significant history was addressed when the state recognized the hall in the Hawaii Register of Historic Places.

Since its opening, the hall has already been used a few times by the community. On Jan. 7, Kalaniana'ole Hall was used by the USDA Rural Development during its roundtable discussion with Molokai residents regarding the economy. Stacy Crivello, a member of the EC Governance Board, said in a statement that it was appropriate for the USDA to utilize the hall because of its contributions to the renovation.

As for its future, Venenciano sees it as a refreshing continuation of a historical entity.
"It is a celebration of our history," he said.

Special Mahalo To:
Ke Aupuni Lokahi Board of Directors and Staff; Hale O Na Ali'i O Hawaii Halau O Kawananakoa; Board of Trustees, Office of Hawaiian Affairs; Mr. Albert Tiberi, Office of Hawaiian Affairs; Mr. William Akutagawa, Friends of Kalaniana'ole; Mr. Hardy Spoehr, Community Development Pacific; Mr. Glenn Mason, Mason Architects; Mr. Lester Delos Reyes, Hawaii National Guard; Ms. Kamaile Sombelon, Lokahi Pacific; Mr. Fred Bailey and Sons Electric, Contractor; Mr. Sandy Stein, Contractor; Ms. Irene Lam, USDA Rural Development; Mr. Darrel Yagodich, DHHL, Planning Department; Mr. George Maioho, Mr. Larry Sagario and DHHL Staff; Mr. Steven Arce, COM, Public Works; Mr. Peter Nicholas, Molokai Properties Ltd., Mr. Adolph Helm, Mycrogen Seed Company; Order of Kamehameha, Maui Chapter; Kalama'ula Homestead Association; Mr. Richard & Mrs. Kanani Negrillo & O'hana; Mr. Henry & Mrs. Rose-Allen Paleka; Mr. Brent Davis, Davis & Sons; and Mr. Dolphin Pawn, Akamai Tree Trimming.