Telephone Exchange Building

February 8, 2017

written by Ken Smith

Old Abandoned Building on Mokulele Highway


There is an abandoned building on the West Maui mountain side of the Mokulele Highway.  Today this building is painted with names of people who have gone missing on the island over the years but it was once a bustling part of the Naval Air Station Puunene.

The “Telephone Exchange Building,” was built in 1942 of bombproof, 4 ft. thick concrete walls during World War II as part of the expanding Naval Air Station Puunene.  Old teletype machines and wires have been found inside the building where Maui naval aviation historian, Alan DeCoite says top secret stuff from Pearl Harbor went through the command center.

In 1947 the Navy returned the Puunene airport to the territory of Hawaii.  Today the building sits on 184 acres of land that is owned by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.  Also remnant from the Naval air station are an inflammable storage building and a concrete steel storehouse.

The telephone exchange building meets the preservation guidelines making it eligible to be recognized as a National historic place.  The county is discussing with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands using the building as a hurricane structure or for other emergency use due to its high quality of construction and low flood risk.

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