The historic Union Hall (Jack Wayne Hall building) is on the makai side of the Waipi'o Road just past the Post Office intersection. The building started its life as an army Quonset hut and was purchased as surplus and re-assembled on the current site in 1954 as headquarters for the international Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).
SOLD! The ILWU has found a new owner to bring back the historic Union Hall (Jack Wayne Hall building) on Waipio Road. Lee West, the new Director of the Hamakua Community Foundation, LLC, who owns the Union Hall, has plans to restore the Union Hall to what it was when it was opened in 1954.

West discovered the Union Hall during his role as the Co-Chair of WOCAN, a global organization of over 1,300 women and men professionals in 113 counties promoting women’s empowerment and gender equality in the agriculture and environment sectors. – a Hawai’I based nonprofit, founded by Kona local Jeannette Gurung, PhD, plans to manage a hub for women farmers and entrepreneurs of Hawai’i County. WOCAN intends to give farmers access to land, housing, training, agribusiness infrastructure and other assistance integrating traditional Hawaiian and modern technologies and practices.

“We needed a home base on the Hamakua Coast for our project and the Union Hall in Honoka’a fit our needs as a meeting place for women farmers with parking and a big kitchen,” says West.

Turns out the Union Hall was more that WOCAN needed, so when City Council Member Heather Kimball reached out to Lee West asking if he might provide extra parking for the visitors of Honoka’a, Lee West overwhelmingly supported the idea. He also plans to open the Union Hall to special events and community needs.

Heather said, “I am excited and optimistic about what might come from the reopening of the Jack Wayne Hall Building. I think there will be opportunities for the community, the downtown Honokaa economy, as well as addressing some of the visitor pressure to Waipio Valley.”

Lee said, “In this new chapter in my life, I would love to continue community work and look forward to restoring the Union Hall to see the town once again enjoying the space.” During his recent visit he met with many residents and store owners in Honoka’a. He is inspired by the nostalgia of the building and the community that the Union Hall created. Lee West respects the civic role the Union Hall has played in Honoka’a and the deep-rooted history it has with the families and friends in the community over the past 68 years.

Dwight Takamine remarked after having met with West, and after several discussions, “Lee’s plan to restore the Union Hall structure will not only help us remember our own history but will strengthen our sense of pride and the special value of supporting one another.”

Since he completed the purchase, West has received several positive comments and suggestions on the needs of the community for the Union Hall. He says he has also received several inquiries for parties and wedding at the Union Hall and hopes he can be open in time to fulfill their requests! Lee West said, “Darde Gamayo of Waipio Valley told me she had her wedding reception and also her daughters first Luau at the Union Hall, and that is the kind of activity I plan to continue.”

Ross Stephenson, the Coordinator of Historic Honoka’a Town Project said, “Lee West has spent considerable time and effort in getting to know the people, historic resources and lay of the land of Hamakua which I feel is certainly important in laying the groundwork for success. His desire to sensitively restore and continue the traditional use of the Jack Wayne Hall ILWU building (Union Hall) as a community center is outstanding and has my complete support. Lee’s efforts are a fitting and welcome community investment.”

Gerald DeMello also spent time with West and said, “I have been actively involved with helping to build civic pride and the restoration of Honokaa Town for the past 20 years, my wife, Claudette, and I are owners of the Ferreira Building (1927) and believe that the series of collective buildings in Honokaa Town of which the ILWU Building is one provides a very unique historical setting not seen anywhere else in Hawai’i. We believe that Lee West’s restoration efforts and WOCAN program initiatives are outstanding and will add economic viability to our community and likewise preserve our community’s historical identity and contribute to civic pride.,” said Gerald De Mello. DeMello serves on the Hawaii Historical Places Review Board and HTA (2011-2018) appointed to State Board by the Governor.

Dwight Takamine and Mark Nakashima show the scale of the interior of the building that has hosted countless meetings, events and social gatherings through the years and is now slated for renovation sixty eight years later.