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2 Hawai‘i Island landmarks to be Listed in National Register of Historic Places

March 9, 2022, 3:41 PM HST
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Two Hawai‘i Island landmarks in Honokaʻa will be listed in the National Register of Historic Places, state officials announced Wednesday afternoon.

The Historic Preservation Division received notice from the National Park Service in Washington, D.C. that Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church and the Awong Brothers store was approved to be in the register. The church was nominated for inclusion in the register in January 2021 and the store in September 2017.

“The church was the center of family gatherings for all of the plantation workers and their families,” said Sen. Lorraine Inouye, who represents Hilo, Hāmākua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikōloa and Kona. “As a sugar plantation child, it was very meaningful to have a place for me and my family to gather with the community. I am excited to have learned that the church is one of very few that continues to hold the Holy Ghost Festival and procession.”

The Historic Hawai‘i Foundation’s website describes the church as “significant as a small-town religious institution, centerpiece for religious and social activities, and catalyst for ethnic mixing in church and town. The church’s blended congregation was comprised of Portuguese, Puerto Ricans, Filipinos, Native Hawaiians and other immigrant members through the years.

The Awong Brothers Store is described by the foundation as historically important as a representative of Honoka‘a town. It began with the completion of the building in the 1870s. Awong Brothers Store’s 50th anniversary was observed in 1968. The building is recognized as an important center for commerce, social and cultural activity for the town’s community. The building is also “a fine example of a commercial, plantation-style building rendered in wood, reflecting the materials and carpentry skills available at the time of construction in Hawai‘i during the late 19th century.

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The business, which closed in 1971, is now the home for the North Hawai‘i Community Federal Credit Union.

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“I am very pleased that the Awong Brothers old store has finally gotten its due recognition as a place of historic importance that will be preserved into the future,” Inouye said adding, “It has been a long while getting through this process to being recognized. I thank the Awong family for its many years serving as an economic contributor to the Honoka‘a and surrounding Hāmākua communities.”

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