Signaling the demise of the outhouse, the Romanesque Revival Ala Moana Pumping Station stood as an impressive icon for Honolulu's first sewage disposal system. Constructed to store and pump the city's sewage through a force main out to sea some twelve hundred feet from shore, this bluestone building projects a dignity far beyond its utilitarian purpose. The main building's projecting octagonal corner and large round-arched front window with concrete voussoirs establish a dynamic, asymmetrical design, punctuated by the prominent eighty-foot-high stack which vented two coal-fired boilers whose steam powered the sewage pumps.
Rudolph Hering (1847–1923) of New York City and Philadelphia, who held a national reputation as a sanitary engineer, designed the city's gravity flow sewer system in 1898, and traveled from the mainland to oversee its construction. Hering's design provided for separate systems for sewage and storm water disposal, a system still employed by the city. With the construction in 1938 of the reinforced-concrete pump building, the blue-stone building was closed and its machinery disposed of. It served as a repair and maintenance facility for a number of years, but has been empty since 1989.