Our Town: Yokohama Specie Bank Building
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
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.
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