For over 30 years Paschoal Hall had remained dark until the lights went back on last Monday for its rededication. That night the superhero film “The Avengers” became the first movie shown to the Kalaupapa patients in the social hall since 1981.
U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye took part in the rededication ceremony on Oct. 29. Hawaii’s senior senator acquired the original funding for the stabilization and restoration of the hall in 1998, which was undertaken by the National Park Service. Between March and June of that year the deteriorated floor and wall framing, along with the roof trusses and shingles, were repaired or replaced.
After many years of planning and gathering funds, a major interior rehabilitation of Paschoal Hall was completed this year. The NPS staff completed the majority of the work.
Paschoal Hall was built in 1916 in response to the residents’ desire for more extensive social activities, The Kalaupapa community was particularly fond of music, dance and movies and the members successfully petitioned the Board of Health to provide a facility for these activities.
Paschoal Hall, 110-feet-by-40-feet in size, first showed a sound movie in 1931. It was in 1958 that the Kalaupapa Social Hall was rededicated and renamed Paschoal Hall in honor of Rep. Manuel G. Paschoal who was influential in obtaining the legislative appropriation for the patients.
The state-imposed quarantine of Hansen’s disease patients in Kalaupapa was lifted in 1969 and in 1970 the balcony wall separating patients from non-patients was opened.
At last week’s ceremony, original movie reels, along with some of the popular activities in the hall, such as badminton and table tennis, were on display. Pictures of Shirley Temple, Edgar Bergan and Charlie McCarthy and Red Skelton were also shown at the rededication. Each patient then received a photograph of Paschoal Hall.
NPS Superintendent for Kalaupapa Steve Prokop served as master of ceremonies. Hawaiian protocol, including appropriate oli and pule, opened the ceremony. Sen. Inouye made his remarks and acknowledgements were offered.
A video called “Paschoal Hall, Heart and Soul of the Community,” was shown. The Von Trapp Family performed, along with Genoa Keawe and Al Harrington. The ceremony closed with a singing of Aloha ‘Oe.
The curator, T. Scott Williams of the NPS, will oversee the preservation and display of over 200,000 objects being kept in the north and south wings of the hall.