photo by EfrankE

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Keauhou Store

If you look at a maps of the flatland, farming areas of the Midwest you’ll notice that towns are located an average of about 8 miles apart, sometimes a little closer or farther, but not much farther.

Towns were birthed in earlier times based on the distance a farmer could load up a wagon, hitch up his horse team and drive to town, unload his produce, buy supplies and return to his house in one day’s time. Overnight stays for farmers were often impractical for several reasons, one being the care of the livestock.

Here in Kona coffee growing country, there remain longstanding general stores at a much closer distance together, I’d say every two to three miles. They served the surrounding coffee farmers and field workers and their children. They are often located right at the old Mamalahoa highway edge of road, I’m guessing due to minimal regulation in pre-statehood Hawai’I, and as a practical response to the steep slope with rapid topographic drop-off.

These general stores resemble those of American frontier western towns of the latter half of the 19th century in that they are built of wood and often present a tall vertical facade in front of a pitched roof, usually double pitched, but sometimes a single-pitched shed roof.

I’ve driven by some of these buildings for years. Many had become quite deteriorated in appearance. Recently, restoration and refurbishment seems to be trending among at least some of the shop owners.

The Keauhou Store is one I’ve always particularly liked. The front facade features a stepped up parapet with radius corners at the height transitions, recalling the streamlining effects seen in buildings of the Art Moderne style popular, on the Mainland anyway, between the 1920’s and 1940’s.

The stepped facade follows the pitch of the roof behind with outer façade portions stretched out to emphasize horizontality (customary of A.M.) while allowing the higher central portion to create kind of a dwarf-ly “monumental” presence. This is an eclectic building. The facade above the porch roofs is smooth, as you would find characteristic of
Art Moderne examples, while the under-porch and side portions utilize the more rustic board and batten cladding.

You can see the drop-off from the road. This building is only about a mile to a mile and a half from the county’s water department offices and base yard. I suspect county water is now available. The rainwater catchment system may now serve as an irrigation source for nearby coffee trees or other farm crops.

The Keauhou store strives for a symmetry that might be more commonly seen in Neoclassical or Italian Renaissance styles, yet finally gives way to its utilitarian needs with the left side projection. In spite of its stylistic anomalies, there’s something unexplainably appealing about this building. I’m looking forward to its completed rehabilitation.

Also somewhat recently refurbished and about 7 miles northward is the K. Komo Store. The store appears to have been constructed, much like buildings going back ages, for commerce on the ground floor and the merchant’s living quarters above.

In both buildings, parking arrangements are left pretty much to the driver’s imagination. Four-wheel drive vehicles might find more parking options.

The K. Komo Store – Note the covered, raised boardwalk, another feature seen on some frontier town buildings.

Not sure the purpose of the top-forward projecting windows. Glare reduction, maybe? I believe these are a recent addition.

As always, click on any photo to view a larger image.

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