A customer asked the other day about the historic significance of this building, and honestly I did not know. I felt I should, so here is what I have found.... so far.
Hata Sadanosuke was born in Hiroshima Japan in 1868 and immigrated to Honolulu in 1891. In 1893, Mr. Hata worked as an agent for Odo Shoten in Honolulu responsible for taking orders from large sugarcane plantations on the Hamakua Coast which employed many Japanese immigrant workers.This gave him the inspiration to start his own business at Hilo on the Hawaii Island on January 3, 1896 called S. Hata Shoten, Limited. He sold Japanese silks, kimonos, as well as eastern souvenirs and provisions. Business was slow in the first years, so he hired out his horse and hackney carriage as a taxicab for visitors.[
After the annexation by the US to become the Territory of Hawaii in 1898, the plantations flourished, as did his business. He moved to a larger building at the corner of Mamo and Keawe streets.
The business was so prosperous in 1912 that it needed more space. The previous building became a wholesale food distributing outlet run by Hata Yoichi. Sadanosuke planned a new $25,000 structure on wetlands on Front Street (later renamed Kamehameha Avenue) near the railroad tracks to the plantations. A condition of the United States government's selling this land was that Mr. Hata builds concrete building within a year's time. Almost all other structures in Hawai'i outside of Honolulu were built of wood. The building is about 109 feet (33 m) by 60 feet (18 m) of reinforced concrete. Such a large masonry building indicated the upward mobility of the Japanese population. The Hilo Masonic Lodge, the Hilo Federal building and Volcano Block Building are the others from that period that remain. The first floor has several store fronts. A wooden staircase leads to a second floor of office space, with 14 arched windows. In 1913, he opened the Hilo Sake Brewing Company In 1919 two wood structures were added to the back, one commercial and one residential
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Hata family was part of the Japanese American Internment Camps. In September the Hata Building was seized and later auctioned by the U.S. government. Hata's second daughter, Kagawa Kasujiro, purchased the building at that time. Because it was so solidly built, it survived the tsunami caused by the April 1, 1946 Aleutian Islands earthquake that devastated much of Hilo. The train tracks of the Hawaii Consolidated Railroad were destroyed in that tsunami, so the building now is on the commercial street nearest the ocean.The path of the railroad was used for the new Hawaii Belt Road, Route 19.