• View of the Kalaupapa Peninsula


    National Historical Park Hawai'i

Paschoal Hall

Paschoal Hall.
Paschoal Hall.
NPS photo.

"Everybody looked forward to the movies. There was nothing else to do on Monday and Friday except go to the movies unless there was a baseball game, then maybe they would go to the game and then come to the movie. But other than that, nobody misses the movie because it starts at 7:00. During the War, [World War II] at one time they started it at 3:30 in order for it to get through before dark. They blacked out all the windows inside and then they showed the movie."

- Kalaupapa resident, 1986

Fun. Laughter. Excitement. These words describe the Kalaupapa Social Hall. Built in 1916, the hall hosted numerous recreational events and gatherings for all the residents of Kalaupapa. Isolated from the outside world both physically and socially, people needed a place for coming together, for socializing, for "talk story." Now they had a suitable structure for hosting movies, dances, theater performances and concerts.


"The building is 110 feet by 40 feet and set upon 124 concrete piers. A space 35 by 40 will be used as a social hall. There is also a stage 12 by 20 for the moving-picture curtain and amateur theatricals. The seating capacity of the new hall will be 350."
- Territory of Hawai`i Board of Health Annual Report, 1916

The building served as the primary entertainment center for Kalaupapa, offering silent movies among other things, for the enjoyment of residents. In step with the times, the Board of Health in 1931 had equipment installed to handle talking pictures. It must have been an exciting day, October 9, 1931, when the first "talkie" was shown in Kalaupapa.

"On October 9th, 1931 the first sound program was shown in the Kalaupapa theatre with the dual equipment installed by the Consolidated Amusement Co. This equipment has given complete satisfaction since its’ installation and an average of two programs weekly has been maintained since the initial show."
- Superintendent’s Annual Report, 1932

The territorial legislature did not flinch at allocating the $7,500 to fund the purchase of equipment because recreation was thought to be of enormous value as therapy for the patients. But even in recreational activities there were rules and regulations to prevent contact between patients and na kokua. Staff had a separate entrance and stair leading to mezzanine seating in the hall, while patients sat on the main floor.

"Two hundred and fifty persons, most of the people of Kalaupapa Settlement, gathered in the social hall Thursday at 2 for a two hour program of patriotic address and music. . . . In the evening, a movie was shown at the hall. Armistice Day, 1948, will be long remembered by the people of Kalaupapa."
- Honolulu Star-Bulletin, November 13, 1948


What kind of films did the residents enjoy? See a sample schedule from December 1948.

Today a few residents still remember those times when the social hall was in full swing, when the hall was filled and western thrillers had the audience enthralled. Commercial motion pictures were shown twice a week. Entertainers such as Edgar Bergen with Charlie McCarthy, John Wayne, and Shirley Temple made appearances. The hall was renamed Paschoal Hall in 1958 for Manuel G. Paschoal, a Hawai`i legislator who served as an advocate for the people of Kalaupapa.

Roofer at work on Paschoal Hall.

Roofer at work on Paschoal Hall.

NPS photo.

Paschoal Hall Stabilization and Restoration.

The National Park Service has stabilized and restored Paschoal Hall, the largest historic building in the settlement. Work was completed in three phases: stabilization, reroofing, and exterior and interior restoration. The historic preservation crew that worked on the building was comprised of Kalaupapa National Historical Park staff, while National Park Service and US Forest Service historic preservation specialists managed the project. Hawai`i’s US Senator Daniel Inouye acquired the funding for the project.

Between March-June 1998 deteriorated floor and wall framing and roof trusses were repaired or replaced . The composition roof that covered the 6,100 square foot building was replaced between October and December of 1998 with cedar shingles, the original material. Physical evidence of the original roofing material was found in the attic.

The major stabilization and restoration work at Paschoal Hall.

The major stabilization and restoration work at Paschoal Hall.

NPS photo.

Rehabilitation of the interior of Paschoal Hall represents a milestone in the long term effort to preserve this iconic building.
To begin the work, all the theater seats were removed, disassembled and crated for shipping to the restoration specialist
who would refurbish the original seats to "as new" condition. This action freed the space of the seating and the wall work.
Extensive damage from infiltration of moisture and insect attack had left the building in need of a great deal of TLC in the form of
preservation carpentry. Preservation ethics call for repair before replacement and replacement only in kind, and that guideline
was strictly followed as structural components, ceiling, floor, and wall boards were repaired or replaced with wood of the
species, dimension, and surface finish. All windows were removed and rehabilitated in the Park carpenter shop. An
indoor accessible restroom was constructed. Paint analysis

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