Edit ModuleShow Tags

Our Town: Look familiar?

A local bank building models after the state capitol, or does it?


When Aileen Sodetani, an American Savings Bank residential loan sales manager, gives customers directions to her office, she usually starts with the intersection. “I tell them, we’re right at the corner of Queen and Ward Avenue, and they’ll go, Oookay. Then I say, the building that looks like a mini state capitol. And they say, Oh yeah!”

The capitol’s mini-me. photos: Scott Kubo

The American Savings Bank on Ward Avenue does indeed resemble a scaled-down version of Hawai‘i’s Capitol, thanks mainly to the columns that swoop up to support a protruding level of barred windows. The facsimile isn’t exact, of course—there’s no reflecting pond, no central open area—but it’s close enough to make one wonder if the bank’s architects were trying for an homage.

In fact, the building, originally built for Liberty Bank in 1963, predates the capitol by several years. It was designed by Merrill, Roehrig, Onodera & Kinder Architects—the same firm responsible for the Neal Blaisdell Concert Hall.

The real deal capitol.

Architect Wes Kinder, now 85 and retired, says that not only was the old Liberty Bank building not influenced by the state capitol, it was originally designed as a six-story office building. Features such as the smoothly transitioning columns, which on the capitol symbolize palm trees, are actually references to Italian architecture, he says. “The original design looked like a palazzo, something in the character of Venice. The second floor was repeated all the way up. If you took a picture of the second story and repeated that four more times, that’s what it would have been,” he remembers.

Liberty Bank ended up not having the funds to complete the full six stories, leaving the structure with the two levels that exist today, and making it easier to give directions to.

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Subscribe to Honolulu

Honolulu Magazine May 2018
Edit ModuleShow Tags



Colin Nishida, Beloved Chef and Restaurateur, Leaves a Culinary Legacy

Colin Nishida

An entire community remembers the owner of Side Street Inn.


Closing of Popular Lanikai Pillbox Hike Delayed Until Further Notice

Lanikai Pillbox Hike

The state asks for public input as it works to repair the old concrete observation stations on the trail, commonly known as “pillboxes.”


First Look: Panda Dimsum in Kalihi

Panda Dim Sum

Frogs, hedgehogs and bees, oh my! This spot dishes up cute, Instagrammable dumplings.


Kaimukī Gets da Shop, a New Kind of Bookstore and Event Space

Da Shop

It takes guts to open a brick-and-mortar bookstore in the days of instant online gratification, but in da Shop, local publisher Bess Press has found a way to allow fickle/loyal readers to have their cake and eat it, too.


20 Great O‘ahu Hikes

Explore 20 great adventures that offer beautiful vistas, waterfalls and more.



Edit ModuleShow Tags