The Centenarians

Over the past year, a surprising number of major local institutions have turned 100—from farms to schools to military bases. What does it take to last a century?


(page 6 of 7)

Salute to Gen. Smith in one of the Schofield Barracks quads circa 1928.

Photo: Courtesy of U.S. Army Archives

Schofield Barracks

Schofield Barracks began as Camp Leilehua in 1905, and served as an encampment for the Army soldiers. “Very little of the original camp is left,” says Hays. “It was only a temporary installation.” It wasn’t until 1912 that construction began for the permanent facilities that exist today.

“If you look at the historical photos, it’s just amazing. It looks remarkably like a western frontier town,” says Hays. The barracks are named after Maj. John M. Schofield, the commanding general of the U.S. Army’s Pacific Division. He was instrumental in establishing the strong military presence in Hawaii.

As built, the barracks housed as many as 1,000 soldiers. Expansion in the 1930s allowed for as many as 6,000 soldiers to call Schofield their home, many living in the original quarters. “The Schofield Barracks of the 1930s is the barracks of today, it’s still very recognizable,” notes Hays.

He adds that the quads form the national register district and are the historical backbone of the barracks, comprised of a church, a theater, post offices and bungalows, all in use today. The facilities make up the historic district of the base, which was recognized by the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. This May, quads C and E of Schofield were given a Historic Preservation Award from the Historic Hawaii Foundation. Schofield Barracks will celebrate its 100th birthday on the day of the country’s independence, July 4, 2009.

The original mission of the army forces was to protect Oahu—specifically, its naval base—from invasion.

The original Tripler General Hospital in 1907.

Photo: Courtesy of Historic Hawaii Foundation

Tripler Army Medical Center

Did you know that World War II Italian prisoners of war helped build the current Tripler Army Medical Center? “They were brought over here by boat from Italy in 1942 and construction began in 1943,” says Hays.

Approximately 300 to 400 POWs began construction of the hospital and did the bulk of the work until the war ended in Europe in May of 1945, adds Hays. It was originally called Tripler General Hospital, named after Brigadier General Charles Stuart Tripler, and was completed in 1948.  

The hospital has always been known for its famous rose coral color, although no one seems to be able to agree on why it was painted that way. Some say that it was painted that color to mask the red dirt that trade winds would blow Tripler’s way, or the architect stuck with the same color from another hospital constructed in California. Hays asserts that both are wrong.

“I have construction documents from 1944, with Gen. Richardson’s signature ordering that the hospital be painted the same color as the Royal Hawaiian Hotel,” he says. “He liked that pink color and wanted the hospital to look the same.”

Long before the new Tripler was built, the original Army hospital with that name—established in 1907—sat adjacent to Fort Shafter’s Palm Circle. It was demolished to make room for the H-1 highway.

Today, Tripler is the largest medical center in the Pacific, serving military and dependents in the entire Pacific Rim.     


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