The Waimea Theatre originally opened on September 2, 1938 featuring the 20th Century-Fox production, "Josette", with Robert Young, Simone Simon, and Don Ameche.
The theater was built for the Waimea Amusement Company at a cost of $25,000. Local contractors were used, including building contractor Taro Iwasa, plumbing contractor George Kondo, electrical wiring by Waimea Garage & Electric CO., Ltd. and building materials suppliers C.B. Hofgaard & Co. Ltd. The architect was Fred Fujioka of Honolulu.
1938 was the height of the art deco period of architecture. The then 500 seat theater was a frame structure with a concrete front. The exterior was originally a sand color with dark brown trim. Electric lights on the marquee were the first of its kind on the island. Decorative neon elements emphasized the modernistic details of the art deco facade. The stand-alone glass-enclosed box office in the middle of the lobby was another unique feature. The grayish-blue and tan interior included more modernistic ornaments. The seating was on an incline and featured a loge section with rattan furniture, purchased from A. Christian of Honolulu. A blower system provided ventilation and coolness to patrons.
As was the fate of many rural movie houses, the Waimea Theatre closed in 1972, with the building converted into a warehouse and retail spaces. Hurricane Iniki destroyed the decorative marquee and front elements in 1992.
The West Kaua'i Main Street leased the building in 1993, after hearing the owner wanted to tear it down. Nearly seven long years of perseverance and patience then went into saving and restoring the landmark theatre.
The County of Kaua'i purchased the building in 1996. Funding for the restoration was provided by the Federal Economic Development Agency and a Community Development Block Grant administered through U.S. Housing and Urban Development. The project design architect was Lloyd Sako and the general contractor was Kikiaola Construction Co.
The Historic Waimea Theater once again re-opened to the public, in August of 1999, under the management of the West Kaua'i Business & Professional Association. Over $40,000 in Theater start-up operating funds came from individual and business "seat sponsors", as listed in the Theater lobby.
The renovated Waimea Theatre now accommodates 270 patrons. It features a small stage, big movie screen, state-of-the-art sound system, snack bar and rattan seat loge section.