The Maui Puerto Rican Association was founded in 1980; the Portuguese Association of Maui in 1984. Independently, each association raised money in hopes of someday having its own building. By 2001, both associations recognized that rising property values and increasing construction costs would prevent them from ever realizing their hopes to have their own buildings.
In 2003, Alexander & Baldwin, Inc., among the oldest and largest landholders on Maui, came to their rescue. A&B offered to lease a parcel of land in Paia to be used jointly by the Portuguese and Puerto Rican communities. A&B specified that the two communities would need to create a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in order to receive A&B’s offer. Also, both communities would have to agree to share A&B’s gift. The identified communities were the Maui Portuguese Cultural Club and the Maui Puerto Rican Association. Each organization went back to its members for a decision. The Maui Puerto Rican Association accepted A&B’s offer. The Maui Portuguese Cultural Club did not. A&B declined to lease the space to only one organization. At that point, the twenty member Portuguese Association of Maui asked to be considered for the opportunity to share the leased parcel with the Maui Puerto Rican Association. When the two associations met, they agreed to form Heritage Hall, a nonprofit tax exempt organization that would house two cultural resource centers – one for the Portuguese and another for the Puerto Ricans. Heritage Hall would also provide Maui’s people with a multi-purpose hall and certified kitchen, and supply office space for non-profit organizations. In 2006, through A&B’s generosity, Heritage Hall was able to purchase the parcel outright for $20,000. The .69 acre lot was appraised at $775,000. For the next eight years, the two partners of Heritage Hall worked diligently to raise funds for construction. Each partner contributed over $50,000 to the effort.