Hawai‘i Woodshow’s New Location Offers You a Rare Inside Look at a Century-Old Hall

After decades in a museum, this annual showcase for local woodworkers and artisans is moving to Moanalua Garden’s Chinese Hall.
Chinese Hall at Moanalua Gardens
The century-old Chinese hall is located near the koi pond at moanalua gardens. 
Photo: David Croxford


You may have glimpsed the winged roofline peeking through bamboo at Moanalua Gardens. Stairs under exposed rafters lead to the typically closed doors of the Chinese Hall. Samuel Mills Damon imported the building from China and rebuilt it on his property around 1905. Party guests could roll up in their carriages or ride the O‘ahu Railway to its stop near the building. As the Damon estate was split and parts were sold to developers, the hall was moved to its current spot in the park and kept largely for private events.


This month, you will have the opportunity to walk inside. It will host Hawai‘i Forest Industry Association’s annual wood show, which showcases sculptures, furniture, musical instruments and more by some of the state’s most skilled woodworkers.


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Old photo of the Chinese Hall in its original location
The chinese hall in its original location, the present-day mapunapuna industrial park.
Photo: Courtesy of Moanalua Gardens


Andy Cole, who has helped plan the show since 2004, says the association has great-grandson of Samuel, J.P. Damon, to thank for the new venue. When things didn’t work out with the Honolulu Museum of Art, which had hosted the event for decades, the group didn’t know where to go next. J.P. Damon has attended every show for years and offered the new location.


Planners have had to make some adjustments for the move from a museum to the historic building: how to light the work, find pedestals and the fact that the only air conditioning is the tradewinds. But the biggest challenge may be “getting people to look at the work instead of the hall,” says Cole. “The hall is spectacular.”


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Teardrop bench from a previous Hawai‘i Forest Industry Association Woodshow
Teardrop bench by victor di novi from the 2018 hawai‘i forest industry association woodshow
Photo: Courtesy of brad goda


So is the show. An average of 35 to 45 artists submit as many as 100 pieces every year, including everything from furniture to accessories and sculptures created from Hawai‘i-grown wood. If you’re a first time attendee, Cole says make sure to set aside enough time to view all the works. “Having worked as docent in the show for many years at Linekona (at the Honolulu Museum of Art), people would put a few coins in the meter and most of the time they would have to leave for a moment, saying ‘I have to put in more quarters,’” Cole says. 


Bring a camera and your credit card. Photos are welcome. And most of the pieces are for sale. 


Hawai‘i’s Woodshow runs Oct. 19–27. Entry to Moanalua Gardens is $1 for residents. woodshow.hawaiiforest.org