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Kalaupapa Pavilion Gets a Facelift

 

Ocean View’s reopening blessing. Photo by Rick Schonely

For 53 years, a small building has stood at the edge of the ocean in Kalaupapa, holding many special occasions and happy memories for residents. The Ocean View Pavilion, built in 1965 by members of the Kalaupapa Lions Club, recently underwent long-awaited renovations and was reopened in a dedication ceremony on Dec. 19.

“After years of sea spray, rain and trade winds, the building needed repairs, specifically a new roof, some structural beams and a painting,” stated a Kalaupapa Lions news release last year. “ [It] stands as a testimony to the strength and fortitude of the residents of this tiny settlement.”

The Kalaupapa Lions Club raised funds to purchase materials and shipped them to the remote settlement on the annual barge last summer. Work was scheduled to begin in late August but was delayed by weather and finished in mid-December. With the help of volunteer efforts and donations, the iconic pentagon-shaped building now has a new roof, siding, replaced jalousie windows, updated sink, repaired mortar rocks and a new coat of paint.

In April 1948, when the Kalaupapa Lions Club was born, it was only the 19th Lions Club in Hawaii, according to former Kalaupapa Lions Club President Claire Cappelle.  

“At its conception, there were over 31 members, which was quite a feat for this small community,” according to a history of the club. “It was the first organization in Kalaupapa where patients and non-patients were able to mingle. The Kalaupapa Lions Club is one of the few Lions Clubs in Hawaii that built and owns its buildings.”

Kalaupapa patient resident Boogie Kahilihiwa said the pavilion stands in an area that used to be known as Spud’s Point.

“I was one of them who worked on the Pavilion,” he said, via a history he hand-wrote for the Dispatch. “Before the Pavilion became what it is today, it was a place where a few of us… used to hang out down at the area, mostly for surfing. There [were] about seven of us younger patients would go down to Spud’s for the purpose of surfing.”

Kahilihiwa said he was among the youngest patients who helped build the structure, stone by stone, getting together every Saturday “and when there was time.”

“The state had a flatbed truck that had a hydraulic part of a platform in the back of the truck bed which could be lowered to put the rocks in the back,” he recalled. “That’s how we got most of the bigger slabs of rock.”

He said the first phase of the pavilion was completed in two to three years, and the bathroom was built in 1971– the same year Kahilihiwa was inducted into the Kalaupapa Lions Club.

The building underwent several other additions over the years but recently was in need dire need of renovations. Cappelle said the idea of repairing Ocean View was first broached by patient Lions members who wanted to see the building restored to its former glory while they were alive to enjoy it.

Nadine Nishioka, former District Governor of the Lions of Hawaii, said she visited Kalaupapa in April, 2017 and asked if the Club members needed help with anything.

“Without hesitation, the members said, ‘Can you help us fix and renovate our Ocean View Pavilion?’” Nishioka recalled, via email. “The members then explained the history of the pavilion and I could see that they all cherished the historical significance of their beloved building. One of the members also expressed disappointment because they have asked for help in the past and their pavilion remained the same.  I could see and hear their frustration, which was a motivator for me, and I made a promise to fulfill their request.  I conveyed their wishes to the Lions of Hawaii and thanks to the help of many, the renovation of the Ocean View Pavilion was a success.”

The work was completed by Alan Shintani, Inc. and R & C Roofing Contractors from Honolulu, which both have connections to various Lions Clubs in Hawaii, and donated some of their labor for the project, along with many other volunteers.

“What a pleasure it was to participate in a project where everyone pulled together to make this dream come true,” said Cappelle.

With repairs completed, the Ocean View continues to be a special place for many.

“The mana of the place speaks about the people who were there in Kalaupapa and have used it,” said Kalaupapa’s Sister Alicia Damien Lau, via email. “It is a peaceful and fun place to be.  The renovations took a lot of people to pull it together, from cleaning the foliage around the building, to the actual work on the roof, paining, the inside, etc.”

For Kahilihiwa, the pavilion is a place of good memories, with more to come.

“The Kalaupapa Lions Pavilion has held many happy occasions, wedding receptions, birthday parties, farewell parties, wedding anniversaries and so forth,” he said. “On some occasions, when we have a graveyard cleanup day, we would have a luncheon at the pavilion, with the state kitchen cooking the lunch… Today it is used for all to enjoy.”

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