USAG-HI receives restoration honors
April 30, 2010
HONOLULU Aca,!" U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii received Hawaii's highest honor for preservation projects, April 22, at the Bishop Museum Atherton Halau, here.
The Historic Hawaii Foundation 2010 Preservation Award was presented to USAG-HI for the restoration of the only remaining quad theater at Quad F, Schofield Barracks.
As part of the centennial celebration in 2009, USAG-HI commissioned the restoration of the theater, which was originally constructed in the 1930s. Leading the nine-month effort was Kenneth Hays, architectural historian, Directorate of Public Works.
"We wanted to take on a project that would really give back to the community," Hays said. "We were able to remove decades of old paint that was hiding the ornate, brightly painted patterns adorning the ceiling and walls, and return them to their original condition. You can now literally step back 80 years in time and see the theater in all its splendor."
The intricately designed theater was originally constructed from 1931-1933, during the period in which the Works Progress Administration was constructing housing facilities at Wheeler Army Airfield and Schofield Barracks.
The presence of the WPA, a program that employed skilled architects, artisans and craftsmen, allowed for decorative theaters to be built inside the quad.
"Back in the day, automobiles were still new on the scene and Soldiers were not able to simply drive down to Honolulu on a Friday or Saturday for something to do," Hays said. "The quad theaters allowed the entertainment to come to them."
Weekend entertainment involving live performances and movies dazzled Soldiers in the theaters until the latter part of the 20th century when the quads were converted into gyms, as it was no longer necessary to bring the entertainment to the troops.
Today, Quad F's theater is the only surviving example of its kind.
The theater's original wood ceiling, stone-finished walls and proscenium (the arch that separates the stage from the auditorium) were all among the restorations of the theater, but the true gem of the project remained a complete surprise until work had already begun.
During the restoration process, while removing paint chips from the walls, a mural portraying U.S. Army Soldiers from the American Revolution through World War II was discovered.
"This unexpected find added a human element to the dAfAcor and paid tribute to the American Soldier for whom the theater was constructed," said Hays. "This is one of those rare, precious artifacts that illustrate the Army's history, so we decided to take the time and give it the attention it deserved."
The mural, along with high-quality renovations, was among the many reasons why HHF honored USAG-HI for its historical quad's renovation.
"We are pleased to recognize the outstanding efforts of the Army Garrison and its contractors in completing this restoration project," said Kiersten Faulkner, HHF's executive director. "It harkens back to a time when barracks life included regular entertainment in theaters, especially since it would have been difficult for Soldiers to make it to town.
"The elegant painting reminds us of the importance of paying attention to all the details that create a whole experience," Faulkner added.
HHF recognized USAG-HI for its renovations of Quads C and E with a Preservation Award in 2008. The recognition of the theater restoration in Quad F adds to the Garrison's commendations in demonstrating proper stewardship of its historic resources.
Preservation Awards are presented in recognition of preservation projects that perpetuate, rehabilitate, restore or interpret the state's architectural, archaeological and/or cultural heritage.
The HHF was established in 1974 to encourage the preservation of historic buildings, sites, objects and communities in Hawaii.
View more photos on USAG-HI's <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/usag-hi/sets/72157623861561265/">Flickr site</a>.