Restoration and Upgrades

The non-profit group, The Friends of the Palace Theater has worked for 15+ years to restore and upgrade their Historic Theater Building.

The Historic Palace Theater in Hilo Hawaii – Restoration, Rehabilitation, and Renovation Progress and Plan

For the past 15 + years, the non-profit group, Friends of the Palace Theater has worked to restore and upgrade this historic 1925 theater building. Through the generosity of numerous grants, business and individual donations, this beautiful “olde Grand Dame” is open. Over a half of a million community dollars keeps our doors open. Thank you, community.


2004 – 2005 ($100K)

  • New Cafe: rebuilt windows, floors, walls, upgraded c2 plumbing & electric, and purchased new equipment and fixtures
  • Replaced roof gutters
  • Constructed ADA-compliant toilet facility
  • Tiled floors, added exhaust fans, and repainted Men’s & Ladies’ ante-rooms
  • Purchased new 10,000 lumen DVD projector, installation, cabinetry, TV monitor
  • Yamaha Grand Piano, trolley and bench (donation)

2006 ($75K)c3

  • 2nd FLOOR: Rehabilitated for new Executive Office space
  • Replaced floor, walls, ceiling
  • Purchased new lighting fixtures, new office equipment
  • Repaired windows on 2nd floor
  • Renovated foyer/ office manager’s area (new fixtures, furnishings)
  • Repaired water damaged walls & windows in lobby office
  • Installed new computerized ticketing system (Sensible Cinema)
  • Repaired stage rigging system
  • Rebuilt stage left platform: concrete steps/ railing
  • Installed Pipe Organ blower in basement
  • Plastered holes in stucco (façade, mauka side)

2007 ($85K)

    • 2 Xenon lamphouse consoles (donation from Consolidated)
    • Installed projection booth air conditioner
    • Installed 2 Projectors (donation from Varsity Theater in Honolulu)
    • Stage: purchased new motorized Grand Drape
    • Safety lighting installed: theater aisles, alley, back lot
    • Back lot cleared, leveled
    • Roof patched and down drains replaced
    • Replaced broken fixtures in alcove hallway
    • Purchased lobby mats and large ceiling fan
    • Replaced carpet/runner in theater
    • Purchased 12 body mikes storage case, DV camera and tripod
    • Upgraded stage lighting
    • Repaired Projection Room: plaster patching/ new ventilation systemc5


    • Purchased new film editing table and 4 zenon bulbs
    • Installed PA system (donation)
    • Repaired 1st floor office Foyer: walls/staircase


2008 ($90K)

  • ADA-compliancy: Constructed wheelchair section in orchestra section,
    resurfaced mauka alley, added concrete ramp to stage right exit door installed
    new security gate for mauka alley
  • Restored canopy cover for walkway,stage right exit
  • Upgraded Equipment: VGA connecter/Powerpoint capability, Hi-def DVD player
  • Renovated small annex office off lobby: replastered/painted
  • Back lot: Graveled for parking
  • Repaired Stage floor (sanding & repainting)
  • Upgraded stage lighting

2009 ($25K)

  • Restored lobby doors and office door
  • Electrical improvements made to backstage area and attic
  • Installed code-compliant paint storage unitc6
  • Improvements made to upper balcony

2010 ($40K)


  • Replaced all theater fire hoses & racks, including new plumbing connections
  • Replaced old stage curtains (cyclorama & traveler) with fire retardant curtains
  • Built trash enclosure in makai alley
  • Construction of new canopy cover for mauka theater exit

2011 ($30K)

  • Repairs to neon marquee
  • Tenting and fumigating entire building
  • Renovate backstage areasc8
  • Updating computer system and network

2012 ($116K)

  • New Roof

2013 ($90K)

  • New Digital Cinema System
  • Stage Rebuilding

2014 ($38.3K)

  • New low energy use LED lights
  • New LED Footlights

2015 – 2016 ($150K)

  • 81 Panel Photovoltaic system installationc7
  • Engineering Plans for Air Conditioning the Theater

2018-2020 ($360K)

  • Update the 1930 sprinkler system, cover additional areas with sprinklers and bring all other
    fire safety materials and equipment up to code.
  • Renovate both public restrooms adjacent to the lobby.
  • Restore the facade and the parts of the facade that wrap the sides of the structure.
    Repair all stucco and wood trim, repaint, reinstall decorative urns, repair the awning marquee
    and neon, add sprinklers under awning.


  • Electrical and mechanical engineering drawings were made up to outline the overarching installation plan
  • Building permits were secured, then progress came to a halt in 2019 when a complete renewal
    of the overhead sprinkler system was required by the Hawaii Fire Department before AC
    installation could proceed
  • Updating the 1930 sprinkler up to modern code took two-plus years of rigorous work
    interrupted by the pandemic, but was completed early 2021, enabling the final approval for
    AC installation to begin
  • A series of ducts were installed in the ceiling above the auditorium, and the huge
    Carrier AC system now sits behind the theater
  • Palace Theater Array 1

    Installation of a high voltage electrical line all culminated
    at 7:30 a.m. on Monday, April 18, 2022. The switch was flipped on, bringing air-conditioning to the Palace auditorium


  • Custom buildout of a new tech booth at the top of the auditorium
  • Expansion of ADA seating area. Built out over second row doubling the amount of ADA seats


  • Restoration of walls/floor/windows in 2nd floor storage area
  • Renovation of Box Office
  • Repairs to Haili Street poster cases (including electric repairs)