2014 Copyright ASCE Hawaii Section

January 2013: City Hall at the Kapi`olani

By C. S. Papacostas for the January 2013 issue of Wiliki o Hawai`i


When the County of O`ahu transitioned to the City & County of Honolulu in 1909, the Kapi`olani Building at the mauka-ewa corner of King and Alakea Streets in downtown Honolulu was rejected as the government's locus ostensibly because of streetcar noise, as I explained in last month's (December 2012) article.


Six years later, in the 1915 Aloha Guide we read that "The City and County of Honolulu has no city hall, the second floor of the McIntyre building, corner of Fort and King streets serving as such. Here the Board of Supervisors meets, and the mayor, clerk, auditor, attorney and his deputies, auditor, building and plumbing inspectors have their offices."


Nevertheless "the city treasurer and the water and sewer departments are in the Kapiolani Building at the corner of King and Alakea Streets. The engineering department is on the second floor of this building." Next, the 1921 Hawaiian Annual avers that the "Kapiolani Building, corner King and Alakea Streets, has become exclusively Honolulu's City Hall, furnishing quarters for all offices and departments of the municipality."


In 1920, the legendary John Henry ("Johnny") Wilson succeeded Joseph "Joe" James Fern as mayor. In his 1921 "Report of the Mayor of the City and County of Honolulu" to the Legislature of the Territory of Hawaii he argued that "less than 10 years ago the city hall rental was $350 a month. This year we are paying $900 a month for the Kapiolani building. Next year the rental will be $1000 a month. What the cost will be when a new lease is asked by a new Board of Supervisors there is no way of determining. Honolulu must own its city hall. Certainly the most logical and practical plan is for the city to build a municipal building. This will take time, but in the meantime we should acquire the present structure used for the various departments. The Kapiolani Building can be bought by the city today for $150,000. At 6 per cent the annual cost of the expenditure would be $9000 or $750 a month. Under the present lease we are paying $10,800 this year for the rental of the building and next year the cost will be $12,000."


Having been rebuffed by the Legislature, he persisted in his 1923 biennial report:


"In my report to the Legislature of 1921... I called attention at the time to the fact that we were in 1921 paying a rental of $900 a month for the Kapiolani Building and that in 1923 we would pay $1000 a month or $12,000 a year. We are paying that sum this year." He again urged acquiring the Kapi`olani Building but at more than $150,000 that time as "the lease expires with the close of the year."


Newspaperman Bob Kraus, Wilson's 1994 biographer, completes the picture saying "the supervisors turned down his proposal to buy the Kapiolani Building and then sell it for a profit when it came time to build city hall. The mayor had to swallow his pride and accept the Punchbowl site." This is where the current city hall opened in 1929. Wilson preferred the Allen site bordered by King, Alakea and Richard streets, across Alakea from the Kapi`olani Building.


As far as I was able to ascertain at this time, after that date, only routine attention was paid to the Kapi`olani. Forty years later, on July 14, 1970 an article by writer Carl Wright appeared in the Star Bulletin (SB) announcing "27-Story Towers to Rise on Alexander Young Block." In part it said:


"Downtown Honolulu, once an aging collection of old buildings, received another infusion of twin towered modernization today with unveiling of plans for the biggest office complex in the state. The site for the major development is bounded by King, Bishop, Hotel and Alakea streets - the block whose Bishop Street half is occupied by the Alexander Young Building. Project developers will be The Hawaii Corp. and Richard Hadley of Seattle... Dominating the block when the project is completed will be two 27-story office towers, tallest in the downtown area... The first tower will rise at the corner of Alakea and King with construction to begin this fall. Completion is set for 1972. A second tower will follow at the corner of Hotel and Alakea. The Alexander Young Building, a downtown landmark since 1903 will be spared..."


A map (see below) showed the originally planned location of the first building where the Kapi`olani Building stood and the second at the place where the first YMCA building had been and where the Honolulu Engineering Association had its first quarters in 1902.

















By September 1970, the joint development venture had been dissolved (Honolulu Advertiser, 9/11/1970). The Honolulu Corporation (THC), previously Von Hamm-Young, Inc., was a firm with a long and interesting history of its own. Its subsidiary, the Pacific Construction Co., completed the redesigned tower in 1972. The new design incorporated Hawaiian motifs with cast-in-place concrete exterior. The 30-story, 350-foot tall building where the old Kapi`olani building once stood was originally named the Pacific Trade Center, and is now known as the Pacific Tower. 


Between 1974 and 1976, the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. of Milwaukee acquired the entire city block (SB, 9/8/1983) and, when all was said and done, the National Register of Historic Places listed Alexander Young building was also razed in 1981 amid controversy to make room for the 28-story glass exterior Pauahi Tower at the corner of Bishop and Hotel.


The complex is now known as Bishop Square and it includes Tamarind Park, named after an Indian tamarind tree planted there, according to various accounts, to celebrate the birth of Bernice Pauahi Bishop on December 19, 1831 by her father, Abner Paki. A section of the tree which was cut down in 1902 is kept at the Bishop Museum (see Hawaiian Annual for 1904).


Back in 1970 when the development was first announced, Randolph Crossley, president of THC (also Hawaii senator from 1959 to 1964 and unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate in 1966 and 1974), was described to have said that "the Alakea-King section of the area now housing campaign headquarters for several political candidates was recently purchased." Not even a mention of the purchased building's name: Kapi`olani!

February 2013: HA`ALELEA LAWN

By C. S. Papacostas for the February 2013 issue of Wiliki o Hawai`i

The thread that strung together quite a few of my articles for a while now consisted of the regular meeting places of what was originally called the Honolulu Engineering Association, now known as Engineers and Architects of Hawaii (EAH). At each juncture, I assembled what I thought were interesting social, economic and political events, along with descriptions of the buildings themselves, particularly if I thought they had not been given sufficient exposure by others. While holding its regular meetings at these places, the association had occasion to assemble, usually for special events such as its annual meetings, at other notable locations that are too numerous for me to even attempt to trace completely. 


Last month (January 2013) I wrapped up my coverage of the Kapi`olani Building that served as the association's headquarters roughly from sometime in mid-1906 to 1910. Located at the mauka-ewa corner of King and Alakea streets, the same building also served as Honolulu's city hall under lease for about a decade in the 1920s.


The engineering association got its start in 1902 at the first building erected by the YMCA in the same city block, at the makai-ewa corner of Alakea and Hotel streets, now occupied by the parking structure of Bishop Square that includes the Pacific Tower where the Kapi`olani Building once stood.


After but a few months at the YMCA, the association moved to the Elite Building across Hotel street between Adams Lane and Union Street, where it appears to have stayed until sometime in 1904. Between 1904 and 1906, monthly meeting announcements in the newspapers sent the membership to "Haalelea Lawn," a reference that appears to have been sufficient to pinpoint the exact meeting place. On occasion, the use of the Symphony Club's quarters was mentioned in this connection.


But only one example of the association's use of this place is seen in the Evening Bulletin (EB) of Dec. 14, 1905: "Secretary H. P. Wood of the Hawaii Promotion Committee speaks before the Engineers' Society at Haalelea Lawn, Richards and Hotel streets, on Monday evening on 'Engineering a Boom.'"


Another is described in a front-page story of the Hawaiian Gazette of March 20, 1906 titled "OAHU POWER PLANT DATA: Enterprise Spoken of Among the Engineers." This was a presentation to the engineering association at Ha`alelea Lawn by Edward Cannon of Portland, Oregon, who, based on "his twenty years of experience in the electrical and hydraulic fields... paid tribute to the excellence of the power plants operating the street railway and street lighting services but he believed that with a fixed central power plant there would be a large reduction in the cost of power to each of these enterprises."


As I described in earlier installments, the Honolulu Rapid Transit & Land Co. (HRT&L) operated its powerplant at its Alapai carbarn, whereas the city's streets were lit by a government-run hydroelectric plant in Nuuanu valley. Power to residences and commercial establishments, including hotels, was supplied by the fledgling Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) from its Alakea street powerplant. Incidentally, at the same gathering, a motion was passed to change "the meeting night from the second Monday to the third Thursday of each month."


You can imagine how piqued my curiosity was about the frequent mention of Ha`alalea Lawn, a place, by the way, that is not listed in "Place Names of Hawaii" by Pukui, Elbert and Mookini. This was several years ago, before "Google Books," the Library of Congress' "Chronicling America" newspaper archive and many other resources became available to me. As a result, my search for clues was tedious, to say the least.


Interestingly, the first lead I came across was in the January 9, 1902 issue of The Honolulu Republican, again on the front page, under the title "HAALELEA LAWN TREE CAUSES GRAVE INJURY." Let me quote the brief story in its entirety if only to offer a glimpse of the type of detective work that leads to the historical accounts I put together for your information and pleasure:


"When the Rapid Transit car that leaves Palama at 8 o'clock in the evening, Punahou bound, arrived at the intersection of Richards and Hotel streets last evening, Mrs. Charlotte Trombly, residing at Makiki, boarded it homeward bound. She had attended the prayer meeting at Central Union Church and was in good spirits. Little did she know that she would never get home in that car.


"When the car arrived at the corner of Hotel and Richards street, the conductor gave the usual warning 'Stonewall to the left, look out!,' Passengers moved their heads a little more into the inside of the car, but the trees climbing over the Haalelea Lawn stone wall were too much for them. In less time than it takes to tell, one of the branches entered into Mrs. Trombly's eye making a large cut from which blood flowed profusely. A hack was called, and a doctor, who happened to be in the car, took the lady to his office where she was given preliminary treatment. He then escorted her to her home on Keeaumoku street."


From this I garnered the following clues: Ha`alelea Lawn featured a stone wall and was located in the vicinity of Richard and Hotel Streets, near the Central Union Church. I knew from earlier research that, between 1892 and 1924, the "blue stone" Central Union Church was located at the diamond head corner of Richard and Beretania streets across Beretania from Washington Place and that the original Royal Hawaiian Hotel was across Richards street with its entrance on Hotel. Assuming that the streetcar went straight across Richards, the Lawn's stone wall on the left side would have been where the State Capital grounds are today. Of course, this was my initial guess and was subject to verification. Incidentally, the roadway segment of Hotel Street beyond Richards was known during the Monarchy as Palace Walk but was renamed after the overthrow to erase the memory of the Hawaiian Kingdom; for the same reason, Iolani Palace became known as the Executive Building, and Palace square where Merchant and King streets meet in front of the Palace grounds was renamed Union square.


I obtained some reassurance that I was correct about the location of Ha`alelea Lawn when I read in a history of the Honolulu Symphony written by Dale Emerson Hall in 2002 that "in 1904 the HSS [Honolulu Symphony Society] secured the lease of Ha`alelea Lawn, a spacious coral-block two-story building... at fifty dollars a month... The HSS occupied Ha`alelea Lawn for about two years." This is consistent with the Evening Bulletin of July 13, 1904: "The Honolulu Symphony Society held the first of its rehearsals for its open air concert last night in the new quarters at Haalelea Lawn... The orchestra will take its place on the lanai in front of the main hall while the audience will be seated in the garden."


From 1904 to 1906 was about the time that the Honolulu Engineering Association was reported to hold its regular monthly meetings at Ha`alelea Lawn.


Then I discovered a story in the Honolulu Republican of August 30, 1901 describing the first runs of the electric streetcars of the Honolulu Rapid Transit & Land (HRT&L) Co. on the previous day: "After leaving the powerhouse [at Beretania and Alapai] the track for the distance of two blocks runs over the unbuilt extention of Hotel street... Then just before reaching Richards street, the track lies so close to the stone fence of Haalelea Lawn that there is berely room for the side of the car to clear." My guess was corrrect: the streetcar line went along the old

Palace Walk and that's where Mrs. Trobly was injured a few months later.


Additional clues I unearthed associated the name of the place with High Chief Levi (Liwai) Ha`alelea from Lahaina who married Kekauonohi, a granddaughter of Kamehameha Ekahi, around 1848.


More to come.

March 2013: LIWAI HA`ALEALE

By C. S. Papacostas for the March 2013 issue of Wiliki o Hawai`i


As I pointed out last month (February 2013), between 1904 and 1906, the Engineering Association held its regular monthly meetings at "Haalelea Lawn," very likely in a building that was occupied at the time by the Hawai`i Symphony Society. My search into the matter pinpointed the "lawn" to an area on the Waikiki side of Richards Street between Beretania Street and the Palace Walk (Heleali`i), and to a "Hulumanu" chief under Kamehameha III, Levi (or Liwai) Ha`alelea.


The earliest documented occurrence of the term "Haalelea Lawn" that I found so far, was in the 1892 Polk "Directory and Handbook of the Kingdom of Hawaii" in which several people are listed as residents in "Haalelea's Lawn." Among them were Mrs. Anna A. Haalelea (Levi's Chinese/Hawaiian second wife, known by several other names as well), Henry Galagher (Royal School teacher), and Chas. Rose (carpenter with C. B. Ripley). Of these people, only Mrs. Haalelea is included in the earlier 1890 issue of the Polk Directory that lists her as residing on "Richard nr. Palace," without explicit reference to any "Lawn." This time-frame is about 30 years after Levi's death.


Levi's obituary had appeared in the October 8, 1864 issue of the Hawaiian language newspaper "Ka Nupepa Kuokoa." In part, it said "ua make oia i ka la 3 o keia malama, ma kona wahi noho ma 'Holani' ma Honolulu nei..." or "he died on the 3rd day of this month, at his place of residence 'Holani' in Honolulu..." Among the items he bequeathed his second wife in his will was a "pahale [house lot] in Honolulu called Holani and bounded by Richards St., Palace Walk, and next to the pahale of H.K. Kapakuhaili and J. Kaeo."


Chief Levi had come to possess this and many other lands on several islands through his first wife Kekau`onohi, a granddaughter of Kamehameha I, whom he married around 1849. According to a story by Royal and later Territorial Surveyor-General W. D. Alexander in the 1906 Annual Report of the Hawaiian Historical Society, Levi had served as "private secretary and land agent" to Kekau`onohi and her previous husband Keali`iahonui of Kaua`i. Kekau`onohi died on June 2, 1851 at age 46.


​These events were contemporaneous with the transition of land ownership (the Great Mahele, or Land Division) that eventually necessitated for the first time accurate land measurements (by "metes and bounds"); hence, precise locational references prior to this practice are often uncertain.


To summarize, sometime after Levi's passing in 1864 and likely around the issuance of Polk's 1892 Directory, the land area known at the time of his death as "Holani" or "Holani-Pa" came to be part of a major gathering place in the heart of Honolulu, "Haalelea Lawn."

To verify my sleuthing conclusions, I turned to a valuable reference by Gorman D. Gilman that appeared in the Hawaiian Annual of 1904 titled "Streets of Honolulu in the Early Forties." Gilman had arrived in Honolulu in 1941, saw the growth of the city first-hand, and put down his reminiscences (with possible lapses of memory, of course). In his article, he methodically describes the major thoroughfares of the city in the 1840s and the most notable buildings located along them.


At one point, he begins describing Richards Street moving mauka and reaches the old Palace grounds (earlier the site of a heiau and also known as Hali`imaile), where he recalls "on the Palace side of the street was a series of low one-story buildings occupied at different times by the Princess Victoria and her brother, Prince Lot... Next mauka were the old premises of the Sumner family... Still mauka crossing a narrow lane, afterward designated as Palace Walk, came a large open ground in which was the residence of Haalelea. And mauka of this coming up to Beretania street, was the residence of Kaeo, and Lahilahi, the parents of the late Prince Albert recently [viz. 1862] deceased. The Central Union Church now [viz. 1904] covers the ground formerly occupied by these houses. Adjoining on Beretania street, was the residence of the French Consul, Jules Dudoit, in whose family were also Mrs. and Miss Coney, his wife's mother and sister..."


Farther on, he also explains that "on the mauka borders of the palace property was the school building of the Young Chiefs' School, cared for and watched over by Mr. and Mrs. A. S. Cooke, formerly connected with the mission."


Fortuitously, in my collection of maps from various sources was one showing Honolulu in 1843 that appeared in the Honolulu Advertiser centennial issue (July, 1956), the original of which was found among the papers of British Consul General (from 1825 to 1843) and instigator of the "Paulet Affair" (in 1843) Richard Carlton; the map was kept in the British Consulate in Honolulu.


The map section covering the area I described above is reproduced below; an accompanying index identifies special map locations, including the Sumner residence on the Palace grounds (item 36), Haalelea's residence (item 57), and Kaeo's and Lahilahi's residence (item 56). Item 58 across Beretania street is described as "Captain Dominis residence, now Washington Place." The French Consul’s house and the British Consulate are explicitly noted and only a stub of Palace Walk is shown as improved, leading to the Young Chiefs' School. This structure was later replaced with Halekoa (or `Iolani Barracks) that was eventually relocated to today's Palace grounds where the Sumner residence used to be to make room for the State Capitol. Today's larger and centered `Iolani Palace was completed in 1882.

















At the risk of once again being sidetracked and keeping in mind that historical accounts of the following events vary in their detail, I feel that a few words about Liwai are in order before completing the story of "Haalelea Lawn."


Ha`alelea was born in Lahaina in 1822. In 1835, an article in "Ke Kumu Hawaii" lists the 13-year old among the students of Papa 3 (3rd Class) "o ke Kulanui of Hawaii nei, ma Lahailanuna i Maui." As I noted above, he served as secretary and land agent to Keli`iahonui and his wife Kekau`onohi whom he married upon her previous husband's death. His only child, Julia Kamalalehea, died of congestion of the brain on Feb. 8, 1856 (The Friend, Aug. 19, 1856). The Feb. 3, 1858 issue of Ka Hae Hawaii announced his second marriage "Ian. 21, 1858, Hilo, Hawaii, mare [married] o L. Haalelea me Amoe." Also known as Ululani, Anadelia or Andelia, and Kapukalakala, she was the oldest daughter of Chinese merchant John Ena and Kaikilaniali`iwahineopuna.


From April 26, 1852 to July 18, 1855, Ha`alelea served on the King's Privy Council (`Aha Kuka Malu) and from 1853 to 1862 in the House of Nobles (Hale `Aha`olelo Ali`i). At least one of his feathered capes (`ahu `ula) is preserved in the Bishop Museum.


Property disputes related to his vast estate persisted for decades, including an accusation that he forged the will of Keli`iahonui. Another major case was Haalelea v. Montgomery (1858) where the Hawaii Supreme Court defined appurtenant fishing rights and redefinition of land "tenancy" in connection with a sale by Kekau`onohi of portion of the Honouliuli Ahupua`a, later sold to James Campbell for $95,000 (Sacramento Daily Record-Union, Sept. 24, 1877).


In the 1850s, he allowed the first contingent of Mormon "Saints" to use his Palawai Ahupua`a on Lanai, and conveyed this land to Walter M. Gibson on Feb. 23, 1863. During the same period, he befriended famous malacologist William Harper Pease, allowing him to keep his library and shell collection in his house.


​He was buried at Kawaiaha`o Cemetery.

April 2013: ULULANI

By C. S. Papacostas for the April 2013 issue of Wiliki o Hawai`i


Inside the nave of the Kawaiahao Church on Punchbown Street in Honolulu, to the left as one enters from the narthex, there hangs a marble memorial tablet with the intaglio inscription:


IN MEMORY OF
LEVI HAALELEA
1828 - 1864
HIS WIFE
ULULANI A. A. HAALELEA
1842 - 1904
AND
RICHARD HAALILIO
1808 - 1844


Unfortunately, the inscribed year of Levi's birth is wrong: all evidence points to his birth in 1822 and not in 1828.


The tablet was unveiled on Sunday, October 13, 1907, according to the the Hawaiian Gazette (HG) of the previous Tuesday that carried a story saying that it had been already placed in the church. I personally verified in February 2013 that it is still hanging where it was first put back in 1907, error and all.


Ha`alilio was Levi's brother, a mightly chief who led a well-known diplomatic mission to Europe in 1842 along with missionary teacher and diplomat William Richards for whom, according to "Place Names of Hawaii" Richards Street was named in 1850. Ha`alilio's most-often cited english name was Timothy (or Timoteo in Hawaiian) and the only other historical reference to him as "Richard" that I was able to find so far is on a headstone inscription at Kawaiahao that also repeats the error of his bother's year of birth!


As I explained last month (March 2013), Ululani was one of several names associated with Levi's second wife. About her, the HG article says that "she became early in life identified with the royal family, and through the reign of five sovereigns, was a prominent and attractive figure in court circles."


After the wedding, "Haalelea brought his bride to his home in Honolulu - the place known in those days as Holani Pa is now called Haalelea Lawn." This is the place where the Engineering Association held its regular meetings between 1904 and 1906 that has brought my story-telling to this juncture.


The HG also tells that she was a skilled poet and that at the time of her death she had partially completed a translation of Lew Wallace's novel "Ben Hur" into Hawaiian. Moreover, "the Queen Dowager, cousin of Haalelea, had her residence adjoining Holani Pa, and was with her that Mrs Haalelea spent much of her time. She kept a fine pair of horses and a white man for a driver - an unusual thing for those days."

Her many social engagements and travels, often in the company of her sister who was most often referred to as Mrs. L.A. Coney, received significant coverage in both the local and national presses. The two were even mentioned in Queen Lili`uokalani's book "Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen." For example, in the Queen's own words, among those who came to visit her during her first trip to the United States in 1878 were "Mrs. Haalelea and Mrs. Coney (at this time residing at Oakland with the children of Mrs. Coney)." A visit to The Hampton, Va., Negro and Indian School where she showed her husband's "cape and neckless" was reported in The Auburn [New York] Bulletin of July 3, 1888.


Ululani became a strong supporter and benefactor of Kawaiahao Church, even leaving a sum $500 to it and another $500 to Rev. Henry Hodges Parker, the church's pastor, in her will [Hawaiian Star 5/9/1904]. In this connection, during the 1907 unveiling of the tablet, she was described as "the second founder of Kawaiahao" for taking the lead to fund raise in order to fix the Church that had become "a dangerous place to enter on account of the rottenness of the roof and other timbers [HG 10/15/1907]." Her obituary that appeared in the HG of April 29, 1904 also told of her "unswerving devotion to Kawaiahao Church and the Hawaiian people."


Three days earlier, the Hawaiian Star announced her death from diabetes at 9:35 o'clock that morning and that among her husband's many lands were Honouliuli, "a large track of land extending up Tantalus," and Haalelea Lawn.


Speaking of Haalelea Lawn, some of you may recall from last month's article that when opened in 1901, the Honolulu Rapid Transit & Land (HRT&L) Co. streetcars were running so close to the Lawn's wall along the Royal Walk stretch of Hotel Street that overhanging tree branches caused physical injuries to passengers.


The government's response to this dangerous situation was announced in the HG of April 25, 1902: "Work has been started on the demolition of the stone wall on Hotel street which has been a constant source of danger to passengers on the Rapid Transit cars. Haalelea Lawn was at one time used as an American Hospital for seamen and later by German Consul Hackfeld as a residence. All transfers to the Department of Public Works have been finally completed."


The Report of the Surveyor to the Governor of the Territory of Hawaii for the Year Ending June 30, 1902 shows among the "new lines marked on the ground for widening of streets" a "strip in front of Haalelea Lawn, widened 19 feet." Details of what this property taking entailed were summarized by the Hawaiian Star of April 24, 1902: transplanting of some trees, removal and reconstruction of a kitchen and small cottage, and demolition of a "stand which raised above the wall" and was "used as an observatory in bygone days as a point of vantage from which to view the outside world at one's ease," similar to other observation stands "erected during the regime of royalty."


​The image below is an excerpt from the 1891 Dakin Fire Insurance Maps that shows Haalelea Lawn prior to this modification. At that time, the previous Central Union Church (resulting from the merger of the Bethel Union Church and the Fort Street Church) was under construction at the corner of Richards and Beretania Streets and the two post-card photographs show the completed blue-stone edifice along Beretania and Richards Streets respectively.







































May 2013: HA`ALELEA LAWN'S FATE

By C. S. Papacostas for the May 2013 issue of Wiliki o Hawai`i


Owning to its central location in Honolulu, Ha`alelea Lawn, the subject of recent installments in this series, has experienced dramatic changes over the years. This is a characteristic attribute of vital cities that continuously seek to renew themselves, constantly transitioning from one stage to the next.

In particular, Ha`alelea Lawn occupied about half of the acreage on which the present State Capitol is located. It is no surprise then that several of my readers have expressed some curiosity as to the evolution of that area prior to March 16, 1969 when the State Capitol officially opened.


As of last month (April 2013) we saw the mauka-waikiki corner of Beretania and Richards Streets being occupied by the first church building of the Central Union Church (completed in 1892) whereas other, mainly residential, buildings occupied the rest of the "pahale." Rather that accounting for the multitude of changes that took place over the years, I chose to share with you two Sanborn fire maps of the area contrasting what it looked like in 1914 (a few years after the Engineering Association held its regular meetings there) and 1950 (about twenty years before buildings were razed to make room for the State Capitol.)


Both maps show the extension of Miller Street from Beretania to S. Hotel Street. Based on all the information I have put together, I can offer the educated guess that Ha`alelea Lawn consisted roughly of the area between Richards and the eventual alignment of Miller as shown on the two maps.

















On the Waikiki side of Miller Street we see what is designated as "U.S. Gov't. Quartermaster Corps," a building none other than `Iolani Barracks that was eventually moved, stone by stone, to the grounds of the Palace to make room for the State Capitol.
Looking at the 1914 map, we see the Central Union Church at the upper left corner and the University Club building at the lower right hand corner of what I delineated as the Lawn. Organized in 1905, the University Club was an exclusive most-likely white men's association that admitted members who had been graduated from recognized Universities, including military academies. In 1930, it merged with the Pacific Club (originally known as "The Mess" and later as the "British Club"), an interesting story that we may revisit in the future.


Both maps also show the "National Guard of Hawaii" Armory building, another monument with a colorful history that deserves additional coverage, but not today: It was built by leading contractor John Lucas and was officially opened on February 13, 1914.


​A major shift between 1914 and 1950 is evident when comparing the two maps: Most of what I called The Lawn, including the Central Union Church building, became occupied by The Schuman Carriage Co. Ltd. and the lower part of the Lawn was populated with light industrial buildings catering to the automobile industry.


The Central Union Church building had gone through several uses prior to becoming Schuman's automobile show room: The final religious ceremonies were reported in "The Friend" of April 1924. Thereafter, the church moved to a new building constructed at the mauka-Waikiki corner of Punahou and Beretania Streets where it stands today, on a lot previously occupied by the Dillingham family residence. Prime architect, in abstentia, of "The Church in the Garden", as it was called, was Ralph A. Cram of Boston who was represented by the local firm of Emory & Webb. In anticipation of the relocation, "The Friend" of July 1920 noted that "while adjacent to three car lines, the new location has the distinct advantage of being away from the noise of the cars," that is, the streetcars of the Honolulu Rapid Transit & Land (HRT&L) Co.


A year after the church’s move, the U.S. Naval Fleet arrived for an extended visit in Honolulu, causing a major quandary: "For a city of 100,000 people to attempt to entertain 45,000 red blooded, well informed young men... over a period of fifty days is a task for any city..." Part of the solution was that "the Army and Navy Y.M.C.A. decided to rent the old Central Union Church property and equip it for use as a Fleet Service Club [The Friend, May 1925]."


Finally, the building was purchased by the Schuman Company. In 1929, according to the Hawaiian Annual, "the most prominent landmark of the year to succumb is that of the Central Union Church, built of Kalihi lava rock by the late Robert Lishman." The alteration of the building for use as the company’s display room resulted in probably the only such facility featuring magnificent stained glass windows, as seen in the old photograph below that was reproduced in the September 29, 2004 issue of the Advertiser!

















June 2013: COMMERCIAL CLUB
By C. S. Papacostas for the June 2013 issue of Wiliki o Hawai`i


Sam Gillie of the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) is the official archivist of Engineers and Architects of Hawaii (EAH), the descendant of the original Engineering Association (est. 1902).


As part of his practice for keeping the membership informed about the association's past and present, he prepares a two-sided weekly bulletin. On the front side, he includes a summary of the previous week's presentation, along with upcoming meeting announcements and other club items. For the flip side, he picks a similar content from a previous meeting. From 1910 when regular meetings at the Kapi`olani Building were discontinued to the mid-1940s, most of these meetings were held at a place called "The Commercial Club."


Here is an excerpt from 1929: "At the meeting on Friday noon, February 1st. to be held at the Commercial Club, the principal speaker will be Lieut. S. R. Hickey, U. S. Navy, who will speak to us about some interesting phases in connection with the rescue work at the time of the sinking of the submarine S-51, with which work Lieut. Hickey was directly connected."


But where was this "Commercial Club" that was apparently so familiar to one and all as to obviate the need for specifying an address? Did it occupy its own building or was it leasing its quarters elsewhere?


My investigation into the matter eventually led to the July 10, 1906 issue of the Hawaiian Gazette: "President Smith of the Honolulu Merchants' Association will shortly call a meeting of business men to consider the proposition of staring a Commercial Club similar to those in mainland cities. A central and in every way suitable location is available, being the entire third floor of the McCandless building under construction at Bethel and King Streets."


Designed by architect Harry Livingston Kerr, the McCandless Building has survived the various redevelopment waves in downtown Honolulu and is still standing at the waikiki-makai corner of the two streets.


As for the composition of the new club, the Hawaiian Star of August 11, 1906 said that it was meant to embrace both the "Merchants' Association and the Promotion Committee." Five days later, the same paper lauded this union by saying, "for one thing it ought, and probably will, reduce the amount of 'knocking' that goes on in regard to practically every public matter touching the business interests, because it will provide a forum where questions can be thrashed out on the basis of discussion and conference, making the arena of 'knocking' unnecessary." Apparently, the merchants' group and the promotions committee, the latter being concerned with growing the fledging visitor industry and exporting Hawaiian products, had been engaged in family feuds and rivalries over public policy priorities and business-related issues.


Less than a year later, on July 21, 1907, the Sunday Advertiser announced that "the Honolulu Commercial Club held an informal and very pleasant opening last night. Tomorrow at noon it will begin the service of luncheons and from thence proceed, as fast as may be, to develop all its functions." The club occupied the entire fourth floor of the McCandless building commanding "fresh air and beautiful scenery, an electric elevator from the handsome main entrance of the building on Bethel street [and] a room with a telephone installed." It was also reported as one of only a few buildings to feature a full basement. In addition, "its furniture was specially made for it by J. Hopp & Co. of
Honolulu from koa wood donated by the Hawaiian Mahogany Co."


President Smith likened the opening of the new club as completing a surveyor's "triangulation" with "the oldest club in existence here - the Pacific, which had a long initial career as the British Club" and the recently established University Club, "which catered to a certain class and did well." Coincidentally, in last month's article (May 2013) I happened to mention the eventual merger of these other two points of the triangle in 1930. Secretary E. H. Paris emphasized that the club was "an organization that would tend to cement the business interests of Hawaii," it soon evolved into a business center that provided meeting, reading, entertainment and dining room facilities to its members and to groups with business connections, including the Engineering Association.


The Commercial Club grew by leaps and bounds to the point that a fifth floor to the building was planned in 1913 for its exclusive use in addition to the already occupied fourth floor. On March 2, 1914, three bids for the extension were opened: $27,900 by Lord-Young Engineering Co.; $29,900 by Honolulu Planing Mill; and $30,111 Spalding Construction Co. [Star Bulletin 3/5/1914].


Also designed by Kerr, the neoclassical fifth floor is of a distinctly different architectural style, texture and color scheme than the original Beaux Arts (or Richardsonian Romanesque) blue-stone building. It featured reinforced concrete walls, although the city building ordinance had no provision for this structural system [Pacific Commercial Advertiser, PCA; 08/29/1914].


To complicate matters, a new building ordinance had been adopted by the City & County Supervisors (the precursor of the city council) that declared "it shall be unlawful to enlarge, build upon or remove any building unless at the completion of such work the whole building and every part thereof shall conform to the provisions of this ordinance." In the midst of a lively debate whether to revise the ordinance by requiring that only "the repairs or alterations made" and not the entire structure shall conform to the provisions of the new ordinance, the construction project was determined to operate without a permanent building permit, and was also found to violate the building code by omitting the installation of a new staircase, fire shutters on the fifth story windows and the called-for thickness of the old structure's walls. J. L. Young of the Lord-Young Engineering Co. was "firmly of the opinion that the officials were not justified in holding up the permit," and that "the building ordinance must be interpreted with intelligence and some technical knowledge of engineering. It is difficult," he said "for a layman to get beyond the letter of this law."


Owner L. L. McCandless, a Democratic leader who had switched from the Republican Party in 1908 and ran unsuccessfully against Prince Kuhio Kalaniana`ole for delegate to the U. S. Congress, accused city officials and Fire Chief Charles Thurston of being motivated by "politics and not law [PCA 09/20/1914]." A "prominent builder" and "another business man" offered opinions anonymously that supported McCandless' claim in the Hawaiian Gazette (10/02/1914) by noting instances in other buildings where infringements of the building ordinance (including the construction of "penthouses" on the roof of the Honolulu Iron Works building, akin to the current project) went unenforced.


At one point, forty laborers on the job were arrested and arraigned by the police for failure to meet the building code! Legal maneuvering ensued and the question was eventually resolved by the courts, but exactly how remains a mystery to me: The last reference to the case that I found appeared in both the SB and the PCA of Thursday, August 12: "The equity case of the City and County of Honolulu against the McCandless Building Company will go to trial in Circuit Judge Ashford's court next, Monday morning."















During the hullabaloo, Commercial Club members "decided not to interfere in the controversy, adjudging it as concerning only the owners of the building [SB 08/28/1914]" but, nevertheless, became beneficiaries of the fifth floor expansion once completed.


On the socio-cultural side, the Commercial Club originated as the exclusive domain of white males. In fact, "it was 50 years before the club admitted women to its annual meetings, and it took the club just about as long to change its Caucasian complexion and admit persons of oriental ancestry [SB 08/21/1963]."


Plagued with dropping membership and financial woes, the Commercial Club closed its doors on August 30 of that same year, auctioning off its belongings, including three paintings by D. Howard Hitchcock of the "Hawaii Volcano School" who years earlier, prior to attaining fame, had been allowed to pay for his meals with them. [Honolulu Advertiser 08/31/1963].

July 2013: LA HULA RHUMBA

By C. S. Papacostas for the July 2013 issue of Wiliki o Hawai`i


The 1906 McCandless Building in downtown Honolulu is now the home of Group 70 International, a design firm established in 1971.

Having heard that the Engineering Association (now Engineers and Architects of Hawaii, EAH) had held its regular meetings for about 35 years in the quarters of the Commercial Club that occupied the top two floors of the building, the leadership of Group 70 invited EAH to hold one of its meetings there in 2011.


​Among the attendees was Martin McMorrow, EAH Past President, U. S. Navy Captain (Ret.), Environmental Engineer (Ret.) and cognoscente of the English language who composed the following impression of this visit:


"Today, on the floor where our island masters of industry once dined on lobster before retiring to their smoking room, you will find the environmental firm Group 70 planning and designing today for a greener tomorrow. A few months ago EAH was invited to hold their weekly meeting at the McCandless Building, returning there for the first time in more than 60 years. Looking out a window on the fifth floor and comparing it to Howard Hitchcock's painting of Honolulu Harbor in 1920 it was still very much the view Howard and our EAH forefathers enjoyed from that very same window so many years ago."


The reference is to the painting "Harbor at Sunset" by the artist who, as I mentioned last month (June 2013), on occasion bartered for his meals. This particular painting frames the rooftops of shoreline buildings, part of the harbor and the Wai`anae Mountains in the misty distance.


The Engineering Association held its regular meetings at the Commercial Club from about 1910 to the mid-1940s. During this period, the meetings received regular press coverage because they dealt with important issues about emerging technologies and their impact on the city's (and territory's) development. Among the subjects on which the Association offered commentary during this period were plans for traffic circulation alternatives, water supply and quality, land use planning, housing programs, highway and tunnel construction, bomb shelters during WWII, qualifications-based procurement of engineering services, and many more.


The newspaper reports occasionally mentioned the meeting-places of the Association and this assisted me in ascertaining the wanderings of the club from place to place since its inaugural meeting in 1902 in the "snug hall" above the first YMCA's gymnasium. The last reference to a meeting at the Commercial Club that I have discovered so far was in the March 31, 1945 issue of the Honolulu Advertiser:


"Displaying a concrete block made of 25 per cent cinder from Hawaii island and 75 per cent black city cinder, Paul P. Klemens, installation engineer for the Besser Manufacturing Co., yesterday explained the production of concrete masonry to the Engineering Association of Hawaii's luncheon meeting at the Commercial Club. Mr. Klemens is in Honolulu to install high-speed concrete block machines to produce masonry for the construction of additions to the Tripler General Hospital."


Subsequent newspaper articles that I located omitted to identify meeting-places until the Star Bulletin of November 8, 1948 that said:


"The Engineering Association of Hawaii is planning a concerted study of the parking and traffic problem in Honolulu. This was decided at the association's weekly luncheon meeting Friday at the YWCA."


Sometime in the 1940s, after meeting elsewhere for some time (see below), the Association made the Richards Street YWCA ("Laniakea") its regular weekly luncheon meeting-place until January 2009 when, because of unaffordable rental at the YWCA, it moved to Fort Street in the Topa (or ewa) Tower of what was previously known as the Amfac Center; first in a mezzanine above the first floor and for several months now in a conference room on the third.


















The records kept by EAH archivist Sam Gillie pinpointed the announcement of the first regular meeting at the YWCA to Friday, May 9, 1947, during the presidency of Vladimir Ossipoff. The speaker at that get-together was H. Sewell Turner of the Inter-Island Steamship Company, whose topic was "The Part of the Engineering Association in Civil Beautification -- How they Could Assist." He was addressing the question as chairman of a committee of the Chamber of Commerce called "Lau Lima Ho`onani," meaning "Many Hands Working to Beautify."


As I mentioned in an earlier installment, for most of its existence the Association arranged for regular meeting-places for its weekly gatherings but special meetings were scheduled elsewhere as well. Reported in the Honolulu Advertiser of September 23, 1944, was a meeting that caught my fancy because of the name of the meeting-place: La Hula Rhumba.


"The idea is growing obsolete that maintaining minimum housing standards, condemning tenements, and offering a place where complaints against bad housing are filed make up the major functions of boards of health in relation to housing, Bernard K. McMorrow, bureau of sanitation head of the board of health, said yesterday at the Engineering association of Hawaii's luncheon meeting at La Hula Rhumba."

The speaker, none other than Captain Martin McMorrow's father, argued for more comprehensive housing programs based on factual information, consideration of economic factors and interagency cooperation.


As for the locale, according to a 1943 "Paradise of the Pacific" feature by Eileen O'Brien titled "Night Life in the Twilight," Honolulu's first new wartime club was opened by "golden voiced singer" and bandleader Ray Andrade at "the former Foresters' Hall on Lunalilo Street near the Robert Louis Stevenson School." Newspaper accounts fixed the sold-out opening day to Saturday, February 27, 1943 at 744 Lunalilo Street. Among those who took out congratulatory advertisements that day were "Court Camoes No. 8110" of the benevolent society Ancient Order of Foresters, General Contractors T. Kurata and M. K. Ozaki who were "proud to have had a part in making possible this outstanding night club," and several music-related businesses. The national entertainment publication "Billboard" of October 16, 1943 clarified that the "spot folds at 9:00 p.m. to give the patrons the chance to be home at curfew time" that was imposed by martial law. In its new use, the Spanish Mission style building hosted Ray Andrade's 15-piece band and many of the leading local entertainers of its era.


The Association's bulletin announcing the August 18, 1944 meeting also stated that on the previous Friday's meeting, held on an experimental basis at La Hula Rhumba, by the way, a decision was made to have its regular meetings permanently there as "adequate parking space is available and it will not be necessary to make reservations in advance." The speaker at the August 18 meeting was sculptor Roy King who discussed "War Memorials." Among his notable works, many of which are found in Hawai`i, is the World War II memorial on King Street near Punchbowl.


The elder McMorrow who spoke at La Hula Rhumba in September 1944 was also featured in the Honolulu Advertiser of January 30, 1957 for having "received one of the highest honors awarded by the American Sanitary Engineers Intersociety Board," that is, qualification as the first certified sanitary engineer in the Territory, specializing in the field of public health engineering. Before coming to Hawai`i, he was the first sanitary engineering graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Since then, the designation of "sanitary engineer" has given way to "environmental engineer," a professional specialty in which the younger McMorrow has exhibited considerable prowess and success as well.


In a subsequent e-mail message, Martin informed me that his father earned the B.S. from MIT in 1932 and that "in 1947 he received the M.S. in Public Health Engineering from Harvard which I believe was also the first for that school." I then asked if his father had attended Harvard on a leave of absence from the Territorial Board of Health and received the following answer:


"I believe it would be called a leave of absence which the Territory paid half his salary and all the tuition. One half salary would not have been enough to survive on so my mother, brother and I went to live with my grandparents in Arizona and my father lived in Boston in my uncle's house. When we came back on the Mariposa the pilot boat met the ship off the harbor and with it were a hundred or more leis for my folks, some of them 10 to 12 feet long. I think his office was truly glad to have him back."


The archives kept by Sam Gillie tell us that the Engineering Association continued to meet at La Hula Rhumba until January 5, 1945 when they returned for a short time to the Commercial club despite the fact that it again became necessary "for members to make luncheon reservations." At the last meeting at La Hula Rhumba the previous Friday, Robert P. Stimpson explained that Hawaian Airlines "converted three Sikorski planes into cargo carriers" because "after Pearl Harbor attack the Navy took over all Inter-Island steamers;" the air freight rate was set to 50 cents per ton-mile compared with "a corresponding, average, approximate rate by water of 4-1/2 cents."


On a recent site visit in the vicinity of La Hula Rhumba I observed that the site had given way to the construction of the H-1 Freeway that now splits Lunalilo Street into two disjointed segments.
























August 2013: The Pantheon Block

By C. S. Papacostas for the August 2013 issue of Wiliki o Hawai`i


The first usage of the term "structural engineer" I have come up with in Hawai`i newspapers was in the Hawaiian Gazette [HG] of June 1, 1906. Describing the Kahauiki Army Post (now Fort Shafter) that was under construction at the time, the HG informed that "Mr. Hassfurther is the structural engineer for the company, and J. L. Young structural engineer and inspector for the U. S. Government."


At what point in time did structural engineers begin to provide their special expertise to the design of civilian buildings in Hawai`i is difficult to tell, partly because of a lack of a consistent terminology. For example, the August 5, 1910 issue of HG describes J. L. Young, the government structural engineer mentioned above, as the "architect" of the Pantheon building on the ewa-mauka corner of Fort and Hotel Streets. Young was said to be connected with the "architect and construction firm of Lord and Young" that had "in their architectural department a corps of trained architects and draftsmen and are equipped to do all characters of design, from the smallest bungalow to the most elaborate office building [HG, 8/9/1910]." Even though the Lord-Young Engineering Co., Ltd. advertised itself as "General Contractors," the building contract for the Pantheon block had been awarded to another large construction firm, Lucas Bros. This is something worth pursuing.


Early maps of Honolulu show the location of the Pantheon Block to be part of a large yam field or "pa uhi."

After a number of uses, in 1878 entrepreneur James Dodd leased the premises "to be called hereafter the Pantheon Hotel... He intends to have in connection with the hotel, a finely arranged livery stable with a full complement of carriages and saddle horses for the accommodation of the public [HG, 10/30/1878]." The enterprise included the Pantheon Saloon for which he obtained a liquor license to dispense retail spirits.


By 1880 Dodd offered omnibus (abbreviated to "bus") service on several routes, one having a terminus at The Long Branch Baths in Waikiki ("Bathing Dresses and Towels furnished") which he owned and operated. Named after a popular place in New Jersey, the seaside resort at Ulukou, just ewa of where the Moana Hotel opened in 1901, catered to individuals and groups, had room for picnic parties and moonlight excursions, and featured a "bridge, forty feet out in the surf [HG, 4/13/1881]." By 1883, Dodd completed a "very handsome" new building in town at the Pantheon corner [Daily Bulletin, 5/23/1883] featuring bar and billiard rooms frescoed by artist M. Kohn who had "produced a really fine ceiling [HG, 5/30/1883]."


Advertisements for the Pantheon Saloon appeared regularly for years, and several events received news coverage, including conversion to lighting by gas (1883), a display of a stuffed platypus and sidewalk improvements (1886), connection to the government's "electric circuit" (1889), changes in ownership, and several incidents of brawling and fighting as well.


After an absence of seven years, Dodd re-purchased the lease for the Pantheon Saloon in 1893 (the year of Queen Lili`uokalani's overthrow) and renovated the building, this time with "a large and commodious room attached to the bar where its patrons can sit at ease and pass their leisure time reading the latest papers [HS, 2/13/1894]."


Things appear to have settled into a routine and unexciting phase until early 1898: In what is reminiscent of Albert Camus' stark opening chapter of "The Plague," local newspapers began to first casually mention an outbreak of plague in distant Bombay [The Independent, 01/13/1898], then Formosa, Hong Kong, Macao and other places in Asia.


By June, the steamship Peru arrived at Honolulu Harbor "seven days behind schedule, due to having been held in quarantine nine days at Kobe" because of a case of bubonic plague [HS, 6/17/1898]. Public alarm about the impending danger and vulnerability grew. An editorial comment in the Independent of June 19 expressed its concern so:


"Our medicine men from the Board of Health go on board a ship, hold post-mortem on a body which they declare died of plague and come on shore; but the pilot who boarded the ship and directed her from the bridge, is placed in quarantine. To a fool this would seem slightly inconsistent."


The bodies of passengers who succumbed to the bacillus were cremated and a general quarantine was set at 21 days from the time of arrival of infected ships or of leaving an infected port [Ind., 06/19/1898]. Some medical authorities attempted to reassure the public that the prophylactic Haffkine's serum and the anti-plague Pasteur serum were available to defend against the menacing disease, but this was insufficient reason to assuage people's fears.


By August, cases of the bubonic plague were reported in Portugal, in the Russian province of Astrakhan, in Paraguay and in Brazil. Eventually, two cases were publicly announced for the first time in Honolulu on December 12 and the Evening Bulletin [EB] broke the story thus:


"Notwithstanding the vigilance of the authorities the bubonic plague has made its appearance in Honolulu."


On that date, two male Chinese bookkeepers had been afflicted and died of the black plague: One, You Chong, was employed by the Wing Wo Tai store on Nu`uanu street near King and the second, possibly Tam Kwock Yee, worked for a grocer on Maunakea near Hotel. Earlier cases were subsequently revealed, but the various reports of them contained conflicting details.


Extensive local but also overseas coverage of the spreading pestilence followed. Regarding the Pantheon block, a letter dated Feb. 8, 1900 by Dr. D. A. Carmichael that appeared in Vol. 15 of the "Public Health Reports," published by the United States Marine Hospital Service, said:

"The other center of infection is block 19, north and east of block 20 at the Pantheon livery stables and saloon. From this place 3 cases in all have been traced, 2 Chinese and 1 white American." As seen on a map that was printed on page 1 of the HG of January 23, city block 19 was on the fringe of the shaded areas that had been torched at that time as a defense against the epidemic. Note that Pauahi Street had not yet been extended to Fort Street.



























The unnamed victims of the contagion were revealed in the local press as employees of the saloon: Wong Chin, Quon Fat Man (also known as Ah Man) and J. H. Hartman. Following the discovery of the first two cases, the Territorial Board of Health ordered the removal of a hack stand, drainage improvements for the stalls and catch-basins, and the cleaning and fumigation of the remaining stable and saloon premises. Only after a fourth infected saloon worker, a "Japanese male" named Yamaoka (or Yamaota), was found stricken in the Weaver place, a lodging-house at the corner of South and Kawaiaha`o Streets containing "125 Japanese and a few Spaniards [Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 2/6/1900]," the Board resolved unanimously that "the Pantheon stables and saloon be declared an infected place and that the same be destroyed by fire."


With five fire engines strategically placed, the controlled incineration of the Pantheon stables and saloon took place in the morning of February 7, 1900. Other places connected with the four victims were also disposed of.


The structures at the burned stables mainly consisted "of a series of heavy timbers for the walls upon which has been laid corrugated iron roof... the same ramshackly series of lean-tos and sheds as were generally found all through the Chinatown district, which were considered so dangerous to safety and public health... No costly structures, and nothing which could be considered in the light of anything but 'shacks' [HG & PCA, 2/6/1900]."


Livestock removed from the stables were taken to the expanded for this purpose facilities of the Honolulu Stock Yards Company [HG, 2/9/1900] on King and South Streets, and the occupants of the remaining city Block 19 were removed to the "drill shed camp" [EB, 2/10/1900] where the State Capitol is today.


Of the four Pantheon workers treated at various "pest houses" (i.e., buildings housing people afflicted with communicable diseases), only Hartman pulled through, a fact that provided mixed results about the effectiveness of the Pasteur serum that was administered to them.


Soon after, a new Pantheon building rose from the ashes.

September 2013: Pantheon post ignem

By C. S. Papacostas for the September 2013 issue of Wiliki o Hawai`i


Last month (August 2013), I briefly traced the story of the Pantheon Block at the ewa-mauka corner of Honolulu's Hotel and Fort Streets from a yam field in the early 1800s to the incineration of the Pantheon Stables and Saloon on Feb. 7, 1900 as a precaution against the spread of the bubonic plague. By coincidence, the lessee and operator of these facilities, James Dodd, had passed away on Jan. 21, 1900 of dropsy [The Independent, 1/22/1900].


Among the building rules adopted by the Territorial Board of Health (BoH) as a result of the plague was to deny building permits in the burned areas until connections to the "sewerage" system had been secured, obviating the reliance on cesspools. This is not a far-fetched idea: These days, redevelopment of Honolulu's Mo`ili`ili district is held back due to lack of sufficient sewer-system capacity.


In 1896, after years of discussion about the need for a "sewerage and drainage system" and following an outbreak of cholera, the notable consulting civil and sanitary engineer Rudolph Hering of New York was invited "to report upon a plan of sewerage system [Hawaiian Gazette, 12/19/1896]." When ten months later he announced that his plans were nearly completed, there were "contractors on the ground who [had] come especially to the Islands to bid on the sewerage contract," against numerous local contractors [Hawaiian Star, 10/23/1897]. Hering proposed separate rather than combined sewer and storm-water drainage systems to "give more satisfaction and be much less expensive." His estimated cost was $201,934 for the sewer mains and $59,526 for the storm-water drainage system to serve 50,000 people which exceeded the then existing population by about 20,000 [HS, 1/5/1898]. Adding the cost of sewer laterals amounted to a total of $478,600, covering "Nuuanu, Fort, King, out to Punahou college and out to Insane Asylum road [HS, 1/8/1898]." The Insane Asylum Road was going north off of King Street town-side of the Kapalama canal.


In short, the sewerage plans contemplated that, after screening, "all the waste stuff go by gravity to a well on the shoreline in Kakaako... and that pumping be from this well to deep sea," via an outfall force main [HG, 1/11/1898]. Contracts for a subset of the plan covering the city's business district from River to Alapai streets between Beretania and the waterfront were let in June 1899, and by February 1900, one-third of the outfall and two-thirds of the rest of the system were completed. Construction delays, however, were later encountered partly due to the effect of the palgue on labor supply, partly as a result of dewatering and excavating difficulties in coral, and partly due to lapses in government funding.


In July, L. C. Ables, one of the lessors and liquor licence holders of the burned Pantheon Saloon, made several requests to obtain a building permit from the BoH but was turned down because of the required connection to the yet incomplete sewer system and a related concern about preventing the "promiscuous erection of buildings." The lessors' attorney, W. O. Smith, intervened arguing that building permits were the responsibility of the Board of Public Works, not the BoH, and that it was "not the fault of the people who wish to build that the sewerage system is not completed [HG, 7/13/1900]." The BoH relented under the condition "that no steps be taken toward occupying it or building a cesspool until a special committee should report on the matter [ibid.]" On Aug. 23, 1900, according to the Hawaiian Star [HS], the liquor license was renewed "for the west end of the new building" and this necessitated that the building "be partly torn down and remodelled to conform to the new plans in regard to it [HS, 8/25/1900]." The west room, 60 feet from Fort on Hotel Street, was given high windows for the saloon and the Hollister Tobacco Company arranged to move to the front corner of the building instead [Honolulu Republican (HR), 9/6/1900]." Another early occupant of the building was a Shaving Parlor that advertised "hot and cold baths can be had at all times."


On Sept. 24, the saloon re-opened in the new building that was described as "quite large and looks neat [HS, 9/25/1900]." Little else I found about the structure's interior, except that "the new establishment has the beautiful koa bar saved from the fire, the volcano picture, lurid and interesting as ever, and a fine, speaking likeless of the late James Dodd, who was known all over the world as the proprietor of the place [HR, 9/26/1900]." His world-wide reputation had resulted from the patronage of seamen on ships that used to drop anchor at the port.

Another detail about the saloon surfaced later in a story describing the artistic decor on the mirrors of several saloon establishments, executed by Tom Sharp, the "signographist." Pantheon's had "on the left... a life size painting of an eagle with the motto 'The American Eagle, Liberty and Truth.' On the right, a waving American flag accompanied by the motto 'Our flag - Justice and Equality' [EB, 12/27/1902]."

The patriotic theme was in keeping with the old days when the saloon had won prizes for being among the best decorated buildings during July 4th celebrations [e.g., HS, 7/5/1894].


Built by Isaac Newton Hayden, a carpenter by trade, the single-story building was constructed of bricks manufactured in Nu`uanu Valley by the Sullivan and Buckley Company [HS, 12/11/1900]. Following some rain damage, a real estate agent by the name of John Egan blamed the porous nature of these bricks, saying, "There is a geological defect or rupture in the soil that unfits it for brick making." An alternate diagnosis came from a tenant of a nearby building, E. A. Williams, who said, "It is the roof gutters... they overflowed and the overflow emptied on the line of the inner wall and did the damage."


Humor was not in short supply either. For instance, the saloon displayed a picture of the anti-alcohol, Bar-Room Smasher and member of the temperance movement Carrie Nation and her hatchet [EB, 5/31,1901], and even served "Carrie Nation cocktails made to perfection [HR, 6/16/1901]."


After a series of real estate transactions involving the undelying land and the improvements, papers for the incorporation of the "Pantheon company" were filed in 1908. The new hui owned "seven-ninths of the property in the block bounded by Fort, Hotel, Nuuanu and Pauahi street and its object is the improvement of this block [HS, 12/2/1908]." Enabled by legislative action in 1903 [The Ind., 4/24/1903], Pauahi Street had by then been extended from Nuuanu to Fort Streets.

















On July 19, 1909 the Evening Bulletin announced, "Architect H. L. Kerr has just completed the plans for a two-story building on the Ewa-mauka corner of Hotel and Fort streets, and bids on its construction will shortly be called for. The building will be of concrete and steel construction and will be built so as to allow the erection of more stories if necessary. It will be called the Pantheon Building."

October 2013: The Ill-Fate Auditorium

By C. S. Papacostas for the October 2013 issue of Wiliki o Hawai`i


Last month (September 2013) I accompanied my article with a 1909 architectural drawing of a new Pantheon building, attributed to architect H. L. Kerr, that was being planned to occupy the ewa-mauka corner of Honolulu's Hotel and Fort streets. The previous month, I quoted a 1910 newspaper report that identified engineer J. L. Young as the architect of the same structure. Perhaps the two accounts can be reconciled if the actual relationship between the two "architects" was akin to contemporary architect/structural engineer paractice. A more likely explanation is offered below.


As planned, the building had a reverse "L" shape, extending 177.5 feet along Fort and 120 feet on Hotel Street. Located above the Fort Street frontage were the Club Stables that had been in competitition to the Pantheon Stables before the latter were set on fire in 1900 to arrest the spread of the bubonic plague. Initially, only 90 feet of frontage was possible on Hotel Street as the Art Theater had a long-term lease on a lot owned by the Pantheon Company [Hawaiian Gazette (HG) 7/20/1909]. The excerpt below from the Dakin Fire Map reflects this situation and shows what it designates as the planned "Dowsett Building," Mrs J.M. Dowsett being the principal owner of the Pantheon Building Company.


This was a time when theaters for moving pictures, vaudeville and other acts prolifrated in Honolulu to the point that Hotel Street was described as "Honolulu's Fillmore street of San Francisco [HG 3/9/1909]." A position for a "boss carpenter" was advertised on May 4, 1908 while the Art was being erected [Evening Bulletin 5/4/1908], and the theater opened on Wednesday, June 10, 1908 [Hawaiian Star 6/9/1908]. Cooled by "forced draught," it was crowded to capacity since its opening day [EB, 6/17/1908]. Its proprietors, Elsie Bailey (later, Almy and even later, Andrews) and Henry M. Lawson, added to their portfolio the "Gaiety Theater" on Front Street in Hilo that opened on May 5, 1909 [HS, 4/28/1908]. They also made plans to "erect a large amusement hall [HG, 3/9/1909]" to be named the "Auditorium" behind the Art, having a seating capacity as large as two other houses [HS, 9/24/1909]." As shown on the Dakin map, the entrance to it was planned to be via an arcade through the first floor of the Pantheon Building on Fort Street.




















Marston Campbell, the Superintendent of Public Works, signed the buiding permit for the Auditorium on March 31, 1909 and, to ensure that it would not be a "menace," it received the inspection of "both Fire Chief Thurston and Plumbing and Building Inspector Miehstein [Hawaiian Star (HS) 6/2/1909; HG 6/4/1909]" at the request of Mayor Fern. The fire Chief was "satisfied that when the building is completed... it will comply with the regulations regarding fire proof buildings, viz. Chapter 74, Section 957, Revised Laws, 1905." The concern about fireproofing was undoubtly stimulated by the Chinatown Fire of 1900 that I discussed previously. Building Inspector Miehstein examined the plans and instructed Mr.Lawson "how and where to place the necessary 'members' to make the building structurally safe." It does not appear that either an architect or a structural engineer were involved in the design of the new theater. During construction, a carpenter by the name of Peter McDonald was reported to have fallen off a scaffold and taken to Queens Hospital [HS, 9/8/1909] but I was unable to ascertain whether he was the "boss carpenter" who had been hired the previous year for the erection of the Art Theater. His qualifications as a builder are attested by the fact that he also had "the contract for erecting the Weather Bureau's kiosk at Bishop and Hotel streets [Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 9/9/1909]. 


Unfortunately, "swinging the big Auditorium, Mrs. Almy and H. M. Lawson... were forced into considerable debt. Mrs. Almy is now in California for the purpose of seeking funds with which to complete the Auditorium [HS, 3/17/1910]." Indeed signs of the financial difficulties became evident earlier when, unable to make payments, the partners took out a mortgage recorded on July 1, 1909 for $2758.50 from Hilo Mercantile Co. covered by "interest in leasehold, buildings, fixtures, moving picture machine. etc. of Gaiety Theater [HG, 8/6/1909]." A second mortgage for $2733 from Lawrence J. Ekberg was recorded on December 21, 1909 [EB, 5/13/1910]. Not much later, they were sued in Honolulu by two creditors, John Neill with a mechanics lien for non-payment for labor and materials and Patrick Walsh for non-payment of a loan. Despite the fact that they filed demurrers [HG, 12/28/1909] that made their way to the Supreme Court of the Territory [HS, 3/2/1910], the incomplete auditorium was placed in the hands of a trustee for the benefit of the creditors [HS, 3/17/1910].


In the meantime, Mrs. Almy's efforts on the coast bore fruit because "the construction of the Honolulu auditorium theater, which has been abandoned for some time, will be completed in a near future" following "the arrival from Los Angeles of Mr. Clark, one of the well known financiers of that city [EB, 4/8/1910]."


Interestingly, along with notices about the featured performances at the Art Theater, a for-sale ad appeared in several newspapers in June 1910 announcing the availability of "several hudreds of the latest and best Victor phonograph records, at one-half original cost."

Subsequently Lawson was said to be "planning to begin vigorous work on his new theater building..., which has hung fire for a long time" [HS, 8/4/1910]." Consistently, the Oct. 28, 1910 issue of HG explained that Lawson had completed financial arrangments and will proceed with revised plans prepared by the Lord-Young construction company for the auditorium and the arcade-entrance through the Pantheon at $40,000. Perhaps this is the reason J. L. Young (and not H. L. Kerr) had been identified as the architect of the Patheon building. Moreover, on Nov. 21, 1910, the HS announced that "Lord and Young will furnish the funds necessary for the completion of the partially built Auditorium Theater." An estimated $18,000 was needed for this purpose.


Lord-Young determined that "the foundations had been sunk deep into the coral and are far in excess of the size and strength needed." The "stage floor is supported by bolted beams resting on iron pillars, and above this... a superstructure composed of heavy timbers, bolted and supported by arches which are solid." The roof above the 2000-seat audience section was retractable on "railroad tracks," with "side mezzanine boxes rising in steps toward the gallery" and no "pillars or posts in the auditorium section." The plan featured 13-14 fire escapes and fire protection was provided by a sprinkler system consisting of perforated pipes "so that the entire stage can be instantly flooded."


According to Lowell Angell's 2011 book "Theaters of Hawaii," the Art closed in 1910. It was put up for trustee sale in April 1911 and was demolished in March, 1912 [EB, 3/9/1912]. The Gaiety was foreclosed in 1911 and sold to Eddie Fernandez on June 15, 1911 for the knocked down proce of $2000 [HS, 6/17/1911]. The Auditorium was never finished as an attempt to form a stock company to save it failed to materialize [HS, 2/2/1911]. To add insult to injury, it was slapped with another notice of mechanic's lien, by the Peerless Preserving Paint Co. this time, "on account of labor performed and materials furnished [HS, 4/6/1911]," and was sold at a high sheriff's sale for $1700 to creditor John Neill, who notified the Pantheon Co. of his intent to remove the structure on June 14 [HS, 6/14/1911]. On the same day, attorneys for the latter obtained a bill for a temporary injunction against Neill to protect its interests as land lessor. Following a series of legal maneuvers, the two parties reached a compromise about sharing the proceeds of the sale of the salvaged materials [HS, 8/16/1911].


As for the Pantheon building, "the pilikia over the erection of the Auditorium... caused the owners of the property to hold up all plans" for more than a year [HG, 7/26/1910].

November 2013: An Ornament to the City

By C. S. Papacostas for the November 2013 issue of the Wiliki o Hawai`i


Have you ever wondered about the story behind the unusual building (pictured below) at the mauka-ewa corner of Fort and Hotel Streets in downtown Honolulu?

















It is none other than the Pantheon Building, clad in a peculiar yellowish facade that was added in the 1960s over the remodeled older Beaux Arts structure. As I related last month (October 2013), the construction of the two-story "brick and handsomely finished" commercial and office building suffered serious delays about which Pantheon Company stockholder J. M. Dowsett said: "The delay in this improvement has not been our fault. First, there was the hitch about the Silva claim to lease rights. This was gotten out of the way, and then other matters came up [Hawaiian Star, HS, 3/8/1910]."


Silva was the lessor of the corner lot and the Pantheon Saloon that stood there. After the controlled incineration of the saloon structure in February 1900 to arrest the spread of the bubonic plague, Silva reopened the establishment in Nu`uanu. The "other matters" in Dowsett's quote included the development of an aborted entertainment complex called The Amphitheater which was planned to have an entrance via a wide arcade through the first floor of the Pantheon. A "request for privileges on the streets" by architect Kerr was required [HS, 4/3/1909] as was securing compliance with Honolulu's first fire ordinance that provided for the expansion of the plumber inspector's duties to include building inspection as well [Hawaiian Gazette, HG, 3/11/1910].


The heightened concern about fire protection is understandable in view of the extensive area that was burned down by the out-of-control Great Honolulu Chinatown Fire of 1900. Consistently, the design was such that "there will not be a stick of wood in the block... door and window sashes being of metal, similar to those in the Japanese bank building [Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 8/3/1910]." The bank mentioned was Yokohama Shokin Ginko (known in English as Yokohama Specie Bank) on Merchant Street, also designed by H. L. Kerr and completed in 1908.


The construction company of Lucas Brothers was selected to build the new two-story Pantheon block at a cost of $80,000 and the building's design included many contemporary features. The framework was "entirely of steel and the walls and floors of reinforced concrete, placing the building in what [was] known as Class A [HG, 7/20/1909]." Other features included a basement lit by sidewalk glass prisms and hydraulic elevators. The flexible wall partitions of "plaster spread over steel laths" provided noise insulation and could be moved to rearrange spaces to accommodate the varying needs of the occupants. The fronts at the ground floor were mostly of plate glass.


Blom's Dry Goods store closed the lease for the spaces at the corner [Evening Bulletin, 9/30/1911] and held a grand opening on December 2. About the location of Blom's store, the Hawaiian Gazette said, "this is considered by retail business men to be one of the best corners in Honolulu; three lines of cars pass by every five minutes during the day," the "cars" being the electric streetcars of the Honolulu Rapid Transit and Land (HRT&L) Company.


Contractor Lucas called it "an ornament to the city" and, in its retrospect for 1911, Thrum's Hawaiian Annual described it as "the principal structure of the year."

December 2013: A Regular Little Bijou

By C. S. Papacostas for the December 2013 issue of Wiliki o Hawai`i


In tracking the wanderings of Hawaii's oldest engineering society, now known as Engineers and Architects of Hawaii (EAH), I singled out some notable structures that had a special connection to either the engineering profession or Hawai`i's history but which had previously received less than the coverage they deserved.


This month (December 2013), I will discuss yet another of these buildings (or "blocks," as they were also called) that, even though not directly related with the Engineering Association, has had a role in the development of Honolulu. When completed in 1898, it was described as "the best finished and up-to-date building ever seen in Honolulu [The Independent 4/25/1898]." The Progress building, or at least its shell, has survived the vagaries of time to this day.























To begin this journey, we must vicariously be transported back in time to Friday, July 25, 1897 to consult the front page of the Hawaiian Star (HS): "Ground will be broken on the old church property at Fort and Beretania streets next Monday for a three-story stone store and office building that is to contain the finest amusement hall west of San Francisco... to be known as the Progress Block." Two days later, the front page of The Hawaiian Gazette (HG) carried a story under the heading "'PROGRESS' BLOCK: New Building on Corner of Fort and Beretania Streets" that began: "Plans have been completed at the offices of Ripley & Dickey, architects, for the Progress building to be erected at the corner of Fort and Beretania streets, according to the orders of C. S. Desky, proprietor."


The location was at the makai-ewa corner above and across the street from the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace or "Malia o ka Malu Hale Pule Nui." The "old church" mentioned in the HS was the historic Fort Street Church that, as I mentioned in March 2013, had merged in 1891 with the Bethel Union Church to form the Central Union Church. At the time of its purchase by Desky, the Progress land tract was known as the Irwin homestead; it had frontages on Beretania Street, Fort Street and Chaplain Lane. The sale was closed on the last year of the Republic of Hawaii and almost one year prior to the establishment of the Territory of Hawaii on July 7 of the following year.


Charles S. Desky, by the way, arrived in Hawai`i in 1895, two years after the overthrow of the Kingdom and, as an illustrious real estate man in the employ of Bruce Waring & Co., immediately engaged in land transactions and developments. With a partner, he built a bicycle racing track called The Cyclomere Park around an artificial lake at Kewalo that opened on October 23, 1897 [Evening Bulletin 10/25/1897]. He even organized, in 1900, the short-lived for lack of patronage Desky Electric Railway that operated from the end of a mule-drawn omnibus on upper Nu`uanu Avenue along Pauoa Road to Pacific Heights.


Contractor Tom Lucas was hired to excavate the site of the estimated $50,000 Progress building [HS 6/25/1897] and C.H. Patzik's $32,600 was the low bid for the construction of the structure [The Independent 8/13/1897]. According to several newspaper accounts [HS 6/25/1897; HG 2/1/1898; Indep. 4/25/1898], the roughly hewn lava rock building had frontages of 83 feet on Fort Street, 80 feet on Beretania, and rose to 53 feet in height, featuring three stories and a roof garden.


The first floor contained three stores 25'x 80' and two entrances accessing the upper floors, one on Beretania at the ewa end of the building and the other on Fort at the makai end lighted by a shaft that extended to the roof and leading to an electric elevator that was supplied by the Hawaiian Electric Company. The second floor was reserved for "ten suites of offices, well lighted and ventilated, with splendid lavatories, conveniently arranged."


On the third floor was an octagonal hall described by the HG as "a regular little bijou of a music hall" and by the Independent as "unequalled in Honolulu," about 60 feet wide with a domed ceiling capped by stained glass 23 feet in diameter and 23 feet above the floor at the apex which was reported as being 100 feet above sea level. Two loggias 8 x 26 feet along Beretania and Fort Streets respectively served as promenades and were separated from the hall by French windows that admitted light and air into it. A dining room, kitchen, pantry, parlor, dressing and toilet rooms and a stage completed the amenities provided on the third floor. The hall was lit by 160 incandescent and several arc lights and had a double floor with felt in between and a hard pine top that was "suitable for dancing."


​Finally, as the HG graphically outlined, "on the roof at the corner of Fort and Beretania will be an observatory with a floor 32 x 32 or perhaps larger... From the foothills along can the view be rivaled. The panorama spread out from this point includes matchless pictures of Punchbowl, Tantalus, Round-top, all the valleys with their bands of rainbows, Diamond Head, with the ships coming 'round, the harbor and its vessels, Kamehameha grounds and even Pearl lochs."

History & Heritage 2013