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Our Town: Yokohama Specie Bank Building


If an old building is lucky, it will enjoy many uses. Case in point: The Yokohama Specie Bank Building (pictured below), at 36 Merchant St., designed in 1909 by architect Henry Livingston Kerr. Originally, this was a bank for Japanese nationals living in Hawai'i. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the building was seized by the U.S. Army, and was used during the war years as a military police station. Handy, since the Honolulu Police Department headquarters were across the street.
Gina Mangieri just founded The Cole Academy in the 1909 Yokohama Specie Bank Building. Photos: Karin Kovalsky

From 1982 to 2001, the building was home to HONOLULU Magazine, in offices designed by restoration architect Spencer Leineweber, who made the bank a showpiece.

Now the old bank has new life in it-literally. It's full of little children. The Cole Academy, a day care/preschool owned and run by former Pacific Business News editor Gina Mangieri (below), opened there in June.

Mangieri started out simply looking for day care for her son, Cole, who was born in March 2003. Unable to find exactly what she wanted, she decided to open her own center, and named it after her son, since he was the inspiration behind the venture.

Adapting the 13,000-square-foot former bank-jail-office into a suitable facility wasn't easy. "The requirements for childcare facilities are quite extensive," says Mangieri. Architect Geoffrey Lewis helped the Cole Academy with early conceptualizations, then Hale Takazawa, of Pacific Atelier, planned the thorough, age-appropriate renovations. "All with great care to abide by National Historic Register guidelines," says Mangieri.

The building now includes a music conservatory, an art gallery, a room where downtown moms can come in and nurse their infants, play structures in the courtyard and extensive security. The Cole Academy accepts children from 6 weeks to about 5 years of age, with full-time tuition ranging from $850 to $1,250. Applications are available at www.thecoleacademy.com, or 531-4500.



Stephen Bloom, president of the Honolulu Symphony, recommends Rosemary Clooney: The Last Concert, with the Honolulu Symphony Pops, conducted by Matt Catingub, which was nominated for a 2004 Grammy award for the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. "This is a very special recording for all of us in Hawai'i, as it was recorded in November 2001, shortly before Ms. Clooney's death, at what was to be her last concert. The CD includes Ms. Clooney singing 'God Bless America' - the only recording she made of this song during her career. It was particularly meaningful in November 2001 during the aftermath of Sept. 11." Concord Jazz, 2002.


Pat Banning, owner of BookEnds bookstore in Kailua, recommends O.E. Bushnell's Ka'a'awa. "Whenever I'm asked to recommend a good read on Hawai'i, I rave about this novel, which was reprinted on the Mainland as The Valley of Love and Delight. The writing is laugh-out-loud funny in many places, juxtaposing the journey of Hiram Nihoa, an old, slyly observant Hawaiian traveling at the King's behest to windward O'ahu, against the more embittered outlook of the displaced New Englander in Ka'a'awa, Saul Bristol, in the second half." University of Hawai'i Press, 1972.


Tiny Tadani, host of Tiny TV on Oceanic Cable channel 16 (OC 16) and local record producer, recommends 13 Going on 30 directed by Gary Winick. "About every 10 years, a flick hits me and I call it my 'favorite movie of the decade.' This decade (so far) it's 13 Going On 30, starring Jennifer Garner. I like it because it makes me think that life here on earth is so short. It gives me strength to seize the moment- get what I want, with whom I want to do it with." Sony Pictures, 2004.

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Honolulu Magazine September 2018
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