The Honolulu press greeted the opening of the Palama Theater in 1930 with pronouncements ranging from “a major step in the beautification of the populous Palama district” to “unique in design and bizarre in decorations.” With its green tile roof with flared eaves and exposed rafters, three-tiered pagoda tower, and assertive entrance, the theater, situated in a predominantly Asian neighborhood, makes a strong architectural statement. Although the reinforced-concrete theater has seen better days, its Chinese motifs still evoke its former grandeur. Alas, its once colorful facade has been painted, the freestanding pagoda-shaped ticket office no longer exists, and the neon sign carried by the smaller rectangular tower has also disappeared, as have the cast-stone dragons which ornamented the corners of the roof.
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