Historic Hanapepe Town, Kauai’s Biggest Little Town

October 29th, 2012 · 2 Comments

Hanapepe is not far from where we always stay on Kauai and I’d always heard about it’s quaint main street, but had never gone there. So, one day when others had plans, I decided to check it out. All of the buildings are very historic and many of them have plaques that tell about the history and have old photos of the building. I have included the text from some of these plaques below as I walked around the town. I liked it, but it did kind of have a ghostly feel…

Seto’s Meat Market & Vidinha Feed Store
3905 Hanapepe Road

Built in the late 1800s by the Seto family, this building originally housed a meat market. Children coming home from school down the cliff trail often purchased a cut of beef for 25 cents for the family evening meal. The sugar cane train, which hauled cane out of the valley, ran next to the building down Ko Road. As it would pass by, children in the area had fun grabbing loose pieces of cane from the train cars.

In the late 1930s the building became a fish market for a time, then the Aloha Market, selling groceries and “after school” snacks. From 1981 to 1991 it was a feed store managed by the Vidinha family. The Seto family carefully restored the building after hurricane ‘Iniki, creating a quaint location for galleries and gift shops.

Now home to Kauai Fine Arts.

Serikawa Hotel
3900 Hanapepe Road

The Serikawa family built this classic two-story building and opened a hotel in 1921, providing lodging and meals for only $3 per night. Hot water for a shared bath was heated over an open fire, in the evening. The family operated a restaurant, general store, and sweet shop, and lived on the bottom floor.

Labor union organizer Jack Hall had an office upstairs in the late 1930s. It was used in the 1983 TV mini-series The Thorn Birds to represent the Dungloe Hotel in Queensland, Australia, as pictured above. Businesses have included Joe’s Barber Shop, Kut ‘n Kurl beauty salon, a garden shop, and assorted art galleries, including the James Hoyle Gallery, one of the first to open in the 1970s.

Now home to Lush Art, Sheldon Gate Jewelry Design, Little Fish Coffee Shop, Kut ‘n Kurl.

Onzuka Laundry & Cleaners
3878 Hanapepe Road

Originally a small house was built on this sight circa 1918. Matajuro Onzuka and his wife Sunae purchased it in the mid 1920s, and started their laundry business there. In the early 1930s they built the present buildings to replace the small house. The family ran the laundry/cleaners in this storefront for nearly 50 years, while living in the buildings behind it. Their kitchen and furo (Japanese hot bath) were located outside between the buildings.

At one point, Mr. Onzuka decided to wall off a portion of the front building and install a pool table. Later this area was rented to a shoemaker. Over the years the building has been home to a variety of businesses. In 2002 the property was purchased and lovingly restored by Kim and Angela Headley as their residence and gallery.

Not sure what this is! Art installation?

K.C. Kai Store, The USO Club & Style Mart
3871 Hanapepe Road

K.C. Kai Store, built by Kwock Chong Kai, had a gala grand opening in 1931. A front-page article in the newspaper described the festivities and the wide array of stylish products displayed at the “up-to-date dry goods emporium.” It was one of the largest stores in the town at the time, featuring a spacious open undivided interior. There was also an apartment in back where the family lived.

During WWII, the building was turned into a USO club for the military personnel stationed nearby. They had magazines, a record player, movies and stage shows to provide entertainment. After the war and into the 60s it was a clothing store known as Style Mart. During the 1970s and 80s, it became a residence for the native Hawaiian Aki family. Since then a series of art galleries have called it home.

Now home to Giorgio’s Art, where they had some gorgeous paintings of plumeria. I wanted them all!.

Moscoso’s Sun Studio & Pascua’s Manila Art Studio
3876 Hanapepe Road

This building, which was constructed in 1922, was home to photographer G.B. Moscoso’s Sun Studio. A unique future of the building is the large multi-paned window on the back wall, which provided the natural light that early photographers needed for taking pictures and making prints.

In the 1930s Juan C. Pascua joined Moscoso. Later the business became known as the Manila Art Studio. Pascua continued in the photography business there through the 1950s. Over the years he documented most of the major town events, did graduation photos for schools, and many ads for local businesses. The artistic tradition has continued since then, with a succession of galleries.

Now home to Hanapepe Artworks.

Chang’s Tailor Shop, Tung Pui Bakery & Hanapepe Pool Hall
3865 Hanapepe Road

This building was built in 1926 by baker Ah Tung and partner Wai Tsing Chang, and is on both the National and State Historic registers. The shop sold herbs, noodles and baked goods; a whole pie cost a dime and a loaf of bread a nickel. The first owner of the property was Hung Sum (Johnny) Chang who operated a tailor shop in the back. The Ah Tung family lived behind the bakery.

In 1938, the Malapit family leased the building and opened the Hanapepe Pool Hall. This photo taken during the 1949 flood shoes the shoeshine stand, holiday decorations, and the old Malapit car in front of the building. Following damage from hurricane ‘Iniki, the current owner and artist, Joanna Carolan, purchased the building in 1999 and completed the award-winning restoration in 2003.

Now home to the Banana Patch Studio.

Aloha Spice Company. I wanted to buy this whole store, but only got a few things.

I don’t know about this history of this building, but it currently is Kama’aina Cabinets and Koa Wood Gallery. There were some beautiful paintings by Robin McCoy in the window. I wanted this one so bad!

D.W. Chang’s Star Auto Dealership & Hanapepe Barbershop
3840 Hanapepe Road

Chang Chup Fong purchased this property in the early 1900s. He was the rice broker for Kauai’s rice farmers. His brother, a skilled carpenter, helped to construct this building across the road from the Congregational Church. Dai Wo Chung, the rice broker’s son, purchased and moved it to its present location in 1927, to serve as the show room for his new auto dealership. The Chang children often enjoyed sitting in the rumble seat on the bumpy rides around the island with their father to show and promote the new cars.

Nearly destroyed by hurricane ‘Iniki in 1992, the building was carefully restored by Dai Wo’s son, Walter, and reopened in 1994. It has been home to a tailor shop, a lei stand, gift shops, art galleries, and of course the well-known Cabacungan Bargber shop.

Now home to Dawn M. Traina Gallery and Arius Hopman Gallery.

Jacqueline on Kauai and Roberts The Fashion Leader.

Hanapepe Hawaiian Congregational Church
3815 Hanapepe Road

The church began as a mission station around 1890 and was called the Hanapepe Mission Chapel. On May 1, 1900 the Reverend J. B. Kahaleole Leliewi was installed as its first regular settled pastor. In the early days services were held mostly in Hawaiian, eventually moving to Hawaiian-English. For a time the front section of the church also served as a little library for the town.

One of the original buildings in Hanapepe, the quaint white historic church stood beneath a towering African Tulip tree. With white walls, wood floors and pews, its classic simple architecture provided a peaceful place for prayer, which harkened back to times past. It was demolished due to damage from hurricane ‘Iniki in 1992, and replaced with the current more modern structure.

Now home to Hanapepe United Church of Christ.

JJ Ohana was a cute store that had very expensive jewelry (Niihau shell), many affordable pieces of jewelry and other miscellaneous things, as well as an area where they sold food and snacks. I bought several things here. The owner was very nice and helpful. She told me business has been very up and down, inconsistent, in Hanapepe these days.

I found this super old theater to be so interesting, but I can’t find out anything more about it!

Pu’uwai Hao Kila Gallery and Veronica Jewels.

Hanapepe Service Station & Igawa Drug Store
3830 Hanapepe Road

The Hanapepe Service Station, owned by Takio Takeshita, occupied this site in the 1920s and early 30s. Later it became a Japanese sundries shop, followed by an “Obuka’s” catalog shop for workers overalls. Morito Igawa and his sister opened a drug store and soda fountain here in 1939. In 1946 he married his wife Mumeno, who helped him with the business while they raised their young family in the one bedroom apartment in the back.

Their delicious fresh limeade is still fondly remembered. Mumeno retired in the 1970s, and has leased the building to a variety of businesses, including the Hanapepe Cafe, owned by Andrea Piscotta. The counter in this 1939 photo was restored by the cafe, bringing it to life once again as a favorite place to gather.

Bobbie’s Island Restaurant and Catering looked like they had some good plate lunches!

Sun Ki Heong Chinese Restaurant & Obatake Jewelry
3814 Hanapepe Road

This building which is on both the State & National Historic Registers, was built in 1932, to house the Sun Ki Heong Chinese restaurant. The owner, Cheong Sum, equipped it with a “$1000 Knight soda fountain, a huge G.E. refrigerator, Victor phonograph, dumbwaiter, and a doubly reinforced upper floor for dancing if desired” during large banquet parties held above the restaurant.

Over time the building housed a liquor store, baby clothes store and the well-known Obatake Jewelry store. It was severely damaged by hurricane ‘Iniki, and was earmarked for demolition by the state. Luckily it was rescued and restored by Mark Jeffers and the Storybook Theater of Hawaii and reopened in 2003.

Now the home of Storybook Theater of Hawaii.

Puahina at Hanapepe and Amy Lauren’s Gallery.

This is the old Yoshiura Store. Read more about it in this article. Now, the Talk Story Bookstore, the The Western-Most Independent Bookstore in the United States.

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