HANAMA‘ULU — The remains of the Hanama‘ulu Trading Co., which housed the former Hanama‘ulu Post Office and several other businesses, were deconstructed Wednesday.
“It’s like watching a piece of history go,” said a spectator Wednesday while the purring of a front loader taking apart the building could be heard in the background.
The building was destroyed by a fire on Dec. 14 and its owners, Deane and Joaquina Abben, cleared the burned structure as part of its rebuilding process. The fire caused an estimated $1.3 million in damages.
Joaquina said during the razing, the metals and concrete will be recycled while the lumber and plaster will be broken down and taken to the landfill.
“It’s going to look almost the same as it did,” Joaquina said. “We’re in the process of getting bids for the construction phase, but in the meantime, we need to get the lot ready for building.”
Odor from the acrid stench of burned, decaying wood mingled with the aroma of cooking lunch from the neighboring Hanama‘ulu Cafe and Tea House, which suffered minor damage from the Dec. 14 blaze that painted the skies over Hanama‘ulu with clouds of black smoke belching from flames.
“The building still had its original floors,” Joaquina said, pensively watching the workers compact the pile of rubble.
Joaquina said in addition to the destruction of the “Post Office Building,” several of The Hanama‘ulu Trading Co.’s other buildings were damaged in the fire, including the building that housed the company’s office, an adjacent building which was used as storage for the big building, and a storage facility in the building currently housing Island Love.
“We’ve already repaired the storage facility in the Island Love building,” Joaquina said. “The facade and lanai of the building where the office is located used to house the stable and the buggies. That will also be repaired.”
The adjacent building will need to have a repair permit because of the extent of damage, Joaquina said.
“My husband bought these buildings from Lihu‘e Plantation in 1977,” Joaquina said. “We moved here in 1978 and we lived in the small plantation camp outside of Hanama‘ulu.”
She said the building, which was totally destroyed by the fire used to house the Lihu‘e Plantation Store, the second story in the back of the store being used for dry goods.
“The big storage building in the back was used to warehouse items for the store,” Joaquina said. “Joe Perreira, who became the first postmaster for the Hanama‘ulu Post Office, used to do (postal) duties from a desk in the store. He was the store’s general manager, too. That’s how the building became known as ‘The Post Office Building.’”
Joaquina said Perreira used a horse and buggy, housed in a stable located next to the storage facility and housing The Hanama‘ulu Trading Co. office, to deliver canned goods and other groceries to Koloa once a week.
He also did a once-a-week delivery to the North Shore.
The building housing Island Love store used to be the Lihu‘e Plantation field office and dispensary where Lihu‘e Plantation workers would go to pick up their paychecks.
Looking ahead, Joaquina said the flower shop and the barber shop have already said they will return when the new building is ready.
“The only one we don’t know about is the post office,” Abben said. “They may just put post office boxes up, but we haven’t heard, anything, yet.”