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?
If you lived here in 1908, you would be one of roughly 50,000 Honolulu residents, under the governorship of Walter Frear. You would have been able to take a taxi (provided by the Hawaiian Automobile Company) to the Stangenwald Building on Merchant Street, to visit our first skyscraper. Or, if you had the means, you could apply for a driver’s license—newly available in 1906—and drive your own car.
That same year you would have had the novelty of telegraph communication with the Mainland or dialed a telephone serviced by Hawaiian Bell Telephone Co. On the weekends you might have seen a silent movie at Joel C. Cohen’s Orpheum on Fort Street, unless it was Sunday, when showings were prohibited.
Within that year you would have also witnessed Hawaii transition into the 20th century, as many of the state’s major institutions formed at this time. Social clubs, a hospital, military bases, a college and more. Here’s a look at some of the organizations that have turned 100 through this past year.
You can see the massive, 416-acre Kapaa Quarry of Ameron Hawaii as you head north on H-3. Chances are, you’ve also walked on a floor or leaned on a wall built with Ameron concrete. The company began in 1908 when John Belser, who owned a Moiliili rock crushing plant, and William Foster, a retired sea captain and Port of Honolulu Harbor Master, formed the Honolulu Construction & Draying Co. From supplying construction materials on horse-drawn wagons to pouring concrete for the Pali Tunnel and the H-3 Freeway, Ameron Hawaii, as the company is now known, has helped solidify the infrastructure of our state.
Here are some of Ameron’s major projects:
• Pali Tunnel – 1956
• Kaneohe Shopping Center – 1958
• Honolulu Tower II – 1987
• Hawaii Prince Hotel – 1990
• Harbor Court – 1994
• First Hawaiian Bank – 1996
• Hawaii Convention Center – 1996
• H-3 Freeway – 1997
• Ford Island Bridge – 1998
• Honolulu Design Center – 2007
Meaning “ocean product” in Japanese, Suisan started out as a small fish market at Hilo’s Wailoa Harbor for Japanese fishermen to sell their catch. Although Suisan Co. Ltd. has since expanded on a global scale; business has remained within the family for the past 101 years.
It all began on September 17, 1907, when Kamezo Matsuno became an associate of a fishing cooperative started by fellow Japanese fishermen. He had arrived in Hawaii five years earlier and, after making his way to the Big Island, began peddling his uncle’s fish.
In three years, the market’s fish auction became a staple seafood provider in Hilo and in 1911 the founders of Sui San Kabushiki Kaisha—the company’s original name—decided to build a second, more modern, fish market. To help bring in the market’s prized ahi, yellow fin tuna, or onaga, long tailed red snapper, it also bought several sampans, says Cary Tahara, a sales consultant and public relations assistant at Suisan.
However, a booming business was no match for the massive tsunami that destroyed both fish markets in 1923. Suisan rebuilt, but World War II threatened to dismantle the company next. Martial law was declared in Hawaii, prohibiting Japanese fishermen from operating their fishing vessels. Tahara notes that many of the company’s Japanese employees were taken to internment camps, including Matsuno.
After a second tsunami in 1946, Suisan rebuilt yet again, and in 1950 Matsuno become the company’s president. Under his leadership, the company further expanded before he passed it down to his son, Rex Matsuno, in 1967. In July 2001, Suisan closed down what got it all started, the original fish auction market.
Today, the company distributes much more than seafood, including frozen food, produce, meat, snacks, pasta and rice, desserts, nuts, soups and non-food items, such as paper products and supplies.
D. Uchida Coffee Farm
Kona coffee, now famous worldwide, was first cultivated on family farms on the Big Island more than 100 years ago, such as that of the Uchida family. Daisaku Uchida arrived in Hawaii on Kauai in 1906, eventually making his way to Kona in 1912. The following year he leased the 5 1/2-acre farm from Arthur Nicolas Greenwell, who had started growing coffee there six years earlier. There, Uchida built a house and raised five children, all of whom worked on the farm.
Uchida leased the small coffee farm for 81 years before returning it to Sherwood Greenwell, who donated the farm to his founding organization, the Kona Historical Society in 1994. Originally the land was scheduled to become a housing tract. “We’re so grateful to have received the farm,” says Sheree Chase, consulting curator for the Kona Historical Society. “It would have gone under the bulldozer like many other places of that era did.”
The farm might not have survived at all, let alone been so well suited for historic interpretation, were it not for some unique circumstances. For one thing, Uchida never modernized. For another, his lease with the Greenwells was less onerous than leases other growers had taken out with Bishop Estate. The Greenwells even provided Uchida a cash job working on Kealakekua Ranch in the off seasons, which helped him keep the ranch going.
The historical society now runs the farm as the Kona Coffee Living History Farm, and its three costumed interpreters go about the daily business of growing and harvesting the coffee, as well as caring for the farm’s chickens and donkey, much as it would’ve been done in Uchida’s time. Right now the farm is at one of its busiest times—harvesting season, which occurs from late summer to early January.
What is now mid-pacific institute was formed from two separate schools: Kawaiahao School for Girls and the Mills Institute. The all girls school was founded in 1864, and the Mills Institute, an all boys school, was founded in 1892. Both schools began in the homes of strong evangelical missionaries, but as the enrollment grew, so did the need for bigger facilities.
The Hawaiian Evangelical Association negotiated a merger between the two schools—although they would each remain same-sex—in the early 1900s and made the move to Manoa in 1908. “They wanted to form a stronger, more financially secure school,” says Scot Allen, the institute’s director of communications. He adds that the board originally considered Palolo Valley, but ultimately decided upon the Manoa campus for its space, beauty and agricultural values for its 110 student residents.
“The school was nicknamed ‘the farm,’ as it provided produce and eggs for the school’s dining halls and offered work opportunities for students,” says Allen.
Students dormed at the school until the 1970s, with separate living facilities for girls and boys, but today Mid-Pacific is coeducational. The two dormitories, Kawaiahao Hall (for girls) and Wilcox Hall (for boys) were twin stone buildings completed in 1908. “The two structures once served as a ‘gateway’ to Manoa Valley,” says Allen. A fire later destroyed Wilcox Hall—originally called Mills Hall—in 1950, but the original Kawaiahao building still serves the school as its fine arts building.
Mid-Pacific’s 1,515 students, from preschool to 12th grade (including the acquisition of Epiphany School in 2004), is celebrating its centennial with a video chronicling the institute’s history as well as the student play, 100 Years in Manoa.
Oahu Country Club
At the turn of the century, Honolulu was an up-and-coming U.S. city. As more people settled in town, the city’s growing executive class sought a place to relax and socialize. Wade Warren Thayer, a prominent local businessman, shared that same vision and in 1907, founded the Oahu Country Club.
“The club was a great selling point to establish Oahu,” says Loren Pippin, the club’s general manager. “In those days country clubs served as premier social scenes and a place to pursue a hobby.”
Thayer leased the land from Thomas C. B. Rooke, the hanai father of Queen Emma. Part of Waolani Valley, the land had been passed on to Rooke through a royal decree by King Kamehameha in 1849. Two years into the lease, Thayer decided to purchase the land outright.
However, Rooke and his relatives lived in Scotland. Since there was no one in Hawaii to meet with Thayer, he sailed to Scotland where he bought the club’s 378 acres from the Rooke family for 6,000 sterling, the equivalent of $30,000 at that time, or $674,841 in 2008.
Oahu Country Club was originally a 9-hole golf course. But by 1913 it grew into an 18-hole course. The clubhouse was modified in the 1940s and rebuilt in the 1960s, including the addition of a swimming pool.
Other changes were still to come. “The first golf ball struck at the club was hit by a woman, Mrs. Faxon Bishop,” notes Pippin. But it wasn’t until 1990 that the club began offering full memberships to women, after Hawaii Women Lawyers began a 1989 campaign to end restrictions at all the business social clubs, including the Pacific Club, Oahu Country Club, Waialae Country Club and Mid-Pacific Country Club.
Today, Oahu Country Club has 1,000 members. In celebrating its centennial, the club plans on giving itself a facelift, repainting and refurnishing.
Outrigger Canoe Club
The Outrigger Canoe Club was the brainchild of a South Carolina man, Alexander Hume Ford. He felt that ancient Hawaiian water sports of surfing and paddling were fading away and wanted to preserve the traditions, and so, on May 1, 1908, founded the Outrigger Canoe Club. Barbara Del Piano, author of Outrigger Canoe Club: The First 100 Years adds that the Queen Emma Estate leased Ford the club’s 1½ acres between the Moana and Seaside Hotels (where Outrigger Waikiki Hotel now stands) for $10 a year.
The first club facilities were two grass houses, transplanted from Hawaii’s oldest zoo, Kaimuki Zoo on Waialae Ave. The club originally accepted men only, but in 1908 Ford also helped found the Women’s Auxiliary Club, and the two groups shared the dressing rooms and canoe storage rooms.
A large fire destroyed the roof of the club’s dance pavilion in 1914, but soon afterward a sturdier, wooden clubhouse was rebuilt. The facilities remained intact until the Board of Health condemned one building due to disrepair. A third clubhouse was erected in 1941.
In 1963, another crisis shook the club. OCC was forced to relocate near Diamond Head at the year’s end when its lease expired and was granted instead to developers to build the Sheraton Hotel. “It almost caused the club’s demise,” says Del Piano.
“Waikiki was the perfect place for surfing and [members] couldn’t accept moving.” Disgruntled club members could take comfort in the fact that architect Vladimir Ossipoff would design their new clubhouse, still in use today.
Despite the club’s ups and downs, it continues to thrive a century later. Today, OCC has 18 6-person racing canoes, single person canoes, surfboards, paddle boards and more than 4,800 members. “It was pretty much a bunch of people who loved the water that came together and it hasn’t changed much since then,” says Mike Ako, the general manager of OCC. “It’s still people who love Hawaii and love water sports.”
Famous Club Members:
- Duke Kahanamoku: “The Father of Modern Surfing.”
- George David “Dad” Center: credited with inventing beach volleyball on the grounds of OCC and was the swim coach for Duke for many years
- Toots Minville: credited with inventing the fiberglass canoe and bringing the art of outrigger racing to Southern California
Sacred Hearts Academy
In 1908, two catholic clergy members from the Sacred Hearts Convent on Fort Street made a bold move and decided to relocate their downtown elementary school to the then- remote Kaimuki. “The land was basically a lot of lava rock and cacti,” says Betty White, head of Sacred Hearts.
A portion of the property was donated and the rest purchased by the school. The Sisters expanded the all girls academy into high school. “The Sisters felt that there weren’t enough secondary schools for women at the time,” says Sister Katherine Francis Miller, the campus minister.
By September 1909, the school was up and running with 53 students, taught by 10 Sisters, most of who were from France and Belgium. “For at least half of our history, the Sisters did everything,” says White. “The sisters even had gardens where they would grow the vegetables to feed the boarding [students]. They did all the laundry, they did the carpentry and they did the plumbing. It’s a little joke because in the past 25 years we’ve had to go back and re-do a lot of plumbing.”
Sacred Heart’s sailor-like blue and white uniform was created in the 1920s and has changed little over the past decades.
At one point in the school’s early history, the Sisters lived on campus, in addition to a boarding department for students until the early 1960s. By the 1980s, the Sisters’ moved out, their rooms made into classrooms. Although only two Sisters still teach at the school, their influence remains strong.
The school has grown to 1,100 students, in grades preschool to 12th grade. In 2003, the school was recognized as a national service learning school and, in 2007, it was recognized as a national school of character, one of 10 in the nation. “We do approximately 50,000 hours of community service a year,” says Miller. “A big part of the school is not only education but giving back to our community.”
The school is celebrating its 100th birthday by expanding the campus. “We kicked off our centennial with the opening of the performing arts building, opening on our birthday, September 12 of this year,” says White.
University of Hawaii
The University of Hawaii at Manoa, with an estimated 20,000 students and a total of more than 300 acres, has its roots in a single-story house near what is now Thomas Square. It held its first classes there in the home of William Maerten—who had no other affiliation with the school—while construction of Hawaii Hall was underway.
UH was established by the Legislature in 1907 as the College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts of the Territory of Hawaii —more commonly known as the College of Hawaii—under the federal guidelines of the two Murrell Acts that allotted money and land grants to states, and later U.S. territories, to establish schools of agriculture.
“When they started classes in 1908, this qualified the institution to get $25,000 from the federal government,” says Jim Cartwright, the university’s archivist. “So that gave the institution essentially $5,000 per student.” The next fall, students were taking college level courses.
Initially, Maui was considered as the location for the college, but the Board of Regents decided on Manoa. “There was some controversy about this site because there were some Native Hawaiians who lived on the property and that caused a little bit of a furor,” says Cartwright. “They were evicted and the Territory of Hawaii bought the land.”
In 1912, the first graduation was held on the steps of Hawaii Hall, with a grand total of four students. The College changed its name to the University of Hawaii in 1920. “The difference at that point was they were able to offer degrees in the arts and sciences,” says Cartwright.
Cartwright adds that the Legislature mandated that women could not be stopped from attending the College of Hawaii on the basis of sex. Home economics was offered as a major in the college’s early years.
Dorms were built as early as the 1930s, but the campus was designed as a commuter campus (and in some ways still remains that way), although you could hardly tell it in those days. “It was built in an area that was hard to commute to,” says Cartwright. At the time, there were no paved roads and students walked down an unpaved Campus Road. “When it rained, it was pretty bad,” he notes.
Today, the university has grown from dirt roads and farmland to a 10-campus system that reaches across the Islands. One way the university has been celebrating its birthday is its Centennial Campaign. The school hopes to raise $250 million through philanthropic donations. At this writing, donations have reached $245.6 million. For more on where the university stands today, read “UH at 100” in our October issue.
For a quick history of the University of Hawaii’s buildings, click here.
The Gibraltar of the Pacific
A number of Hawaii’s biggest military bases are celebrating their centennial. What was so special about 1908 that the U.S. military would build Fort Shafter, Schofield Barracks, Tripler Hospital and the naval base at Pearl Harbor at the same time? It happened in part because it could—Fort Shafter, for example, was built on former crown lands ceded to the U.S. government after annexation. But the U.S. interest in Hawaii bases went as far back as 1872, when Civil War veteran Maj. Gen. John Schofield scouted the islands and determined that Pearl Harbor would make an excellent naval base. By 1898, the U.S. had taken the Philippines and Guam, supplanting Spain in the Pacific. And another nation emerged with Pacific ambitions—Japan, which defeated Russia with a surprise attack in 1904, in a brief war that claimed nearly a quarter-million lives.
The race for control of the Pacific was on.
Fort Shafter— named after Major Gen. William Rufus Shafter—was the first permanent U.S. military post in Hawaii. It was constructed as the headquarters of the Army in the Pacific, and still serves that same purpose 101 years later.
Fort Shafter originally consisted only of Palm Circle, complete with stables, corrals and homes that are still lived in by senior officers today, says Ken Hays, an architectural historian for the Army. The National Register of Historic Places recognized the circle as a historic landmark in 1984.
One of Palm Circle’s most important structures is Building 100, or Richardson Hall. It was nicknamed the “Pineapple Pentagon,” during World War II, because it’s where top military officials, such as Adm. Chester Nimitz, made the wartime strategies of the Pacific. President Franklin Roosevelt even brainstormed in the Pineapple Pentagon once.
Historic architecture, like the Pineapple Pentagon, make the base’s history come alive. “When you drive through the gate, you go back in time 50 or 60 years,” says Hays, adding that the majority of buildings remain unchanged.
Even the 1948 Richardson Theatre—named after Lt. Gen. Robert C. Richardson—is also architecturally historic. “It’s beautiful art deco,” says Hays. Richardson Theatre, now home of the Army Community Theatre, was originally painted rose coral like Tripler.
Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard
centuries ago, pearl harbor sheltered the fishponds of the Native Hawaiians, who called it Puuloa or Wai Momi, meaning “water of pearl.”
But Hawaiians weren’t the only people intrigued by the harbor’s safety. In 1887, Congress approved a treaty with the Hawaiian Kingdom allowing the Navy exclusive use of Pearl Harbor to establish operations. The base began as a coaling station, but a $2 million congressional appropriations in 1908 funded construction of a drydock and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard was born.
“A shipyard isn’t a shipyard unless you have a drydock, it’s just piers,” says Kerry Gershaneck, the shipyard’s public affairs officer. “You need to be able to work under a [ship’s] hull to be a no-kidding shipyard.”
But not everyone was pleased with the harbor’s transformation. According to legend, an old Hawaiian fisherman warned workers to stop dredging because the area was kapu, sacred to the shark goddess Kaahupahau. Despite his warning, construction and dredging continued, for four years. Then, on Feb. 17, 1913, the drydock suddenly imploded. “A report describes chunks of concrete the size of small cars shooting into the air,” says Gershaneck. “It was a miracle that no one was killed.”
The report cited seismic pressures as the official cause of the disaster. However, a blessing was made to Kaahupahau before the shipyard’s reconstruction. Six years and nearly $5 million later, Drydock 1 was completed, without further incident.
Today, the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard has four drydocks, and continues to be one of the state’s largest industrial employers. Events celebrating the centennial have taken place throughout the year. For more on Pearl Harbor’s history to its modern work as a nuclear-capable shipyard, see our May 2008 story, “The Yard.”
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.
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.
First Hawaiian Bank
In 1846, Charles Reed Bishop came to Hawaii from upstate New York with $256 in cash, according to his diary. But he invested wisely and, in 1858 opened Bishop & Co. out of the basement of the Makee & Anthon’s Building on Kaahumanu Street with his partner William Aldrich. That small basement operation evolved into First Hawaiian Bank, Hawaii’s oldest financial institution. On the bank’s opening day, $4,784.25 was deposited in Bishop’s safe, ($149,558 in 2008 dollars) earning 5 percent interest.
“To start a bank, the primary ingredient that you need is confidence and that’s what Bishop had,” says Don Horner, president and CEO of First Hawaiian Bank.
The bank’s original general ledger, which is housed in the original Bishop & Co. safe, documents the first recorded financial transactions. “The names reflect the diversity and history of Hawaii,” says Horner. “It has always served a melting pot [of people].” Some of the historic deposits include those from Hawaiian royalty, Castle & Cooke, C. Brewer Co. and Queen’s Hospital.
Bishop & Co. also loaned money, aiding such interests as the whaling industry and sugar plantations, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and the establishment of the Hawaiian Pineapple Co. Ltd., founded by James Dole.
Bishop was also charitable. Instead of throwing a party to celebrate the bank’s move to its new location on Merchant and Kaahumanu streets—as was expected at the time—Bishop chose to commemorate the bank’s success by quietly donating to five charities.
He also helped formulate a will with his wife Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, to establish the Kamehameha Schools for Native Hawaiians after her death.
Today, First Hawaiian is the 60th largest bank in the nation (out of 8,500) and remains the largest financial institution in the Islands. It served six Hawaiian monarchies and witnessed Hawaii transition from a kingdom, to a republic, to a U.S. territory and eventually the 50th state. It’s also global in the thoroughly 21st century way, owned by the Mainland subsidiary (BancWest Corp.) of a French Bank (BNP Paribus).
The company celebrated it’s centennial with anniversary aloha shirts for employees and centennial birthday parties at each of the bank’s branches.
Sisters of Saint Francis
Over 125 years, this entity has grown from seven Sisters, into a major, modern medical facility. It all began with a plea for help by the Hawaiian monarchy. In 1883, leprosy, now called Hansen’s Disease, was ravaging the Hawaiian Islands. The infected were quarantined to the isolated Kalaupapa Peninsula on Molokai because no one knew how to treat them and were too afraid to try. Fifty religious organizations turned down the monarchy’s letters for help. But not the Sisters.
On Nov. 8, 1883, Mother Marianne Cope and six fellow Sisters arrived to Oahu aboard the Mariposa and were received by Hawaiian royalty. “They arrived from Syracuse, New York, from the Sisters of the Third Franciscan Order,” says Sister William Marie Eleniki, minister of the Sisters of St. Francis. “They were taken to the Government Branch Hospital in Kakaako to help the leprosy patients.”
The mission soon grew. In 1884, the Sisters helped establish Malulani Hospital, now known as Maui Memorial Medical Center. The following year the Kapiolani Home was set up in Honolulu for daughters of leprosy patients.
Next—the Kalaupapa colony, where more than 1,000 people had been exiled by 1888. Two Sisters accompanied Mother Marianne where they restored Bishop Home and cared for women and girls.
Today, the Sisters continue Mother Marianne’s legacy and not only continue to provide care for current Hansen’s Disease patients at Kalaupapa, but provide medical assistance through the St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii. “People were so inspired by her that the continued donations helped build the St. Francis Hospital on Oahu,” Eleniki adds, referring to the former St. Francis hospital built in Liliha in 1927.
(St. Francis, and its Ewa offshoot, St. Francis West, fell on hard times in recent years and were purchased by their attending physicians and renamed the Hawaii Medical Center East and Hawaii Medical Center West. HMCE continues to serve as a major organ transplant center.)
To celebrate their 125th birthday, the Sisters are doing it up big. “We’re noted for having a good time,” laughs Eleniki. She adds that on Nov. 8, the Sisters are going to reenact Mother Marianne’s arrival to Hawaii followed by mass. Last month, they held the Feast of St. Francis at the Hawaii Convention Center, with a concert for the St. Francis Health System Sisters and employees. And in January they had a celebration in Hilo, as well as spending a weekend in Kalaupapa with a dinner and mass.